Calling all runners and non-runners aged 10-100 years old! Eager to re-enact the pleasure of running that you sometimes forget with the elaborate training programme that you have designed? No longer feeling liberated but instead bullied by your Garmin, Fuel or Fitbit? Tired of getting another shin splint, or waking up in the middle of the night with that gnawing knee ache? Thinking ‘I want some of that!’ when you see children laughing, crying, tumbling, screaming or giggling when they run? Re-invigorate yourselves! Join the ANTI-ADULT RUN! RUN! RUN! Masterclass #antiadultrun, which are exclusive and explosive special training sessions run by world-class running experts — under the grand old age of 15.
#antiadultrun was first commissioned for and premiered at the annual Anti Festival held in Kuopio Finland, September 2015. It was highly successful, receiving radio and online coverage in Finland and Australia as well as positive feedback from the Masters, organisers and participants alike. The Masters of this first #antiadultrun were the irreplaceable and irrepressibly incredible Pihla Väisänen (14, also known as Big Pihla), Pihla Hakala (10), Saimi Perinea (7), Auri Kaki (14), Annika Saarelainen (14), Uniela Fabricius (10), Robert Pennanen (10), Aliisa Ouaiche (9), Helmi Hautamäki (10), and Minja Ikonen (10). While the experts were tiny, they were big hearted, open, giving and taught the adult participants (aged up to 84!) way more than running. They also proved to us that running can be that conduit to cut across and indeed question the boundaries of culture (Finnish; UK; NZ; Singapore), discipline (geography; fine art) and age (adults and non-adults). Scroll to bottom of this post to watch a video summary of the Masterclass.
Come run with us in this exercise on rebelliousness, mischief and silliness. Un-learn your habits, and re-learn from children! Behave as a wayward child! Defy the grown-ups in us who reprimand ‘walk, don’t run’! Be self-consciously un-self-conscious! Throw tantrums! Come come come to enjoy some un-adulterated fun fun fun, and RUN! RUN! RUN!
COMMISSION AND PREMIERE IN FINLAND
Within only 4-5 hours over the 2 days of workshopping, Alan, Kai, ten Masters as well as two assistants-interpreters developed the work together. The Masters were recruited from the Steiner school in Kuopio. Perhaps reflecting the unique ethos of the school, the Masters were bright, open, giving, generous, big-hearted, forgiving, loving, unpretentious and beautiful. And with each Masterclass, they cooperated, competed, and took complete pride and glee in teaching the audience, which consisted in not just adults but their own parents, an 84 year old, a 1 year old, as well as some unidentifiable big orange mascot. RUN! RUN! RUN!’s assistants-interpreters, social worker Kaisa Hiltunen and artist Venla Kivela played critical roles in the entire endeavour. They were the bridge between Alan and Kai and the Masters, as well as between the Masters and international audience. Kaisa was herself a Master of multitasking, At any one time she would have 10 Steiner kids eager to share their thoughts at her, which she translates for the pair, then convey back what they are thinking or rather working through, and all at the same time doing the strenuous back-killing drills that the kids invented/instructed. Venla was as tireless, nonchalantly picked up and removed poo at the market square so that no one would have to step on them, as well as taking Kai on a side project of removing neo-nazi stickers in the streets of Kuopio.
Apart from the Masterclass, Kai and Alan also premiered a new paper, Running into each other: RUN! RUN! RUN! A Collaboration on 3 September at the Kuopio Academy of Design, which outlined the underlying conceptual framework behind their collaborations. Here, they introduced the term ‘productive antagonisms’, which they loosely define as a hybrid mode of enquiry through artistic experimental practice, and propose that such an approach may have the potential for people from different disciplines to generate productive outcomes in a way that stretch their disciplinary parameters. Additionally, Kai presented a Pecha Kucha version of her performance-lecture Life On The RUN! RUN! RUN! on 2 September at the Pannuhuone Pub where Festival director artist Gregg Whelan described Kai as having played an instrumental role in the UK in the development of the study of running beyond its traditional fields. See full Anti programme and press release here. After Anti, Kai visited the University of Helsinki on September 7th to conduct a re-run of her performance-lecture on running as an urban app, at the invitation of Professor Sirpa Tani, Professor of Geography and Environmental Education. In 2016, on September 1, Kai presented a performance-lecture at the Royal Geographical Society at its prestigious annual RGS-IBG conference, and the paper was well-received.
ANTI Adult RUN! RUN! RUN!:
By Dr Kai Syng Tan, Dr Alan Latham with extraordinary Masters from the Kuopio Steiner School consisting of PihlaVäisänen (aged 14), Pihla Hakala (10), Saimi Perinea (7), Auri Kaki (14), Annika Saarelainen (14), Uniela Fabricius (10), Robert Pennanen (10), Aliisa Ouaiche (9), Helmi Hautamäki (10), Minja Ikonen (10).
ANTI Festival. Curated by Professor Gregg Whelan (Falmouth University).
Festival manager Elisa Itkonen, Production assistant Senni Poyry. Interpreters/assistants Kaisa Hiltunen and artist Venla Kivela. All parents and guardians of the children.
BEING ILL-DISCIPLINED: CONTEXTS
The #antiadultrun is not a nostalgic re-turn; neither is it a positioning that is diametrically ‘anti’ or ‘against’ adulthood. Instead, it is a cheeky call for adults to play ‘old children’, to take a stance against an (self-)seriousness that may characterise the contemporary art world, an over-utilisation of technology in sport and exercise worlds, or a mode of over-thinking that society demands of a ‘grown-up’. It is also about the creation of a (loose) framework that encompasses or rather celebrates failure, difference (cultural, linguistic etc), and of dis-empowering ‘adults’.
The notion of running as a means to (re-)-connect with and to (re-)enact a child-like and childish spontaneity and freedom is hardly new. American runner-author George Sheehan talks about running as a ‘true journey’ back to capture the ‘fun’, ‘play and enjoyment’ of running that many of us remember from when we were young (1978). Says the medic who picked up running aged forty-five, ‘like most distance runners I’m still a child. And never more so than when I run’. Indeed, ‘chi-running’, a technique of running derived from Chinese Daoist (Taoist) principles, advocates a re-capturing of the ‘beautiful ease of movement we had as children’, and to referring to children as ‘role models’ for adult runners (Dreyer 2004). In fact, with his chin-full of beard and long white hair, the person who invented Daoism himself, Lao Zi (Lao Tzu) looks every bit a very old (and very wise) sage. Yet, the philosopher, whose name literally means ‘old child’, urges us to be ‘restless’, ‘foolish’ and ‘crude’ — just ‘like a child’ (500BCE). Nonetheless, this cultivated frivolity and innocence is highly sophisticated. It is in fact a critical stance against over-intellectualism, and functions as an anarchic tactic in ‘opposition to authority, government coercion, and even to normal socialisation in values’ (Hanson 2012).
#antiadultrun is a simple exercise on rebelliousness, mischief and silliness. It is not a nostalgic re-turn; neither is it a positioning that is diametrically ‘anti’ or ‘against’ adulthood. Instead, it is a cheeky call for adults to act as ‘old children’, to take a stance against an (self-)seriousness that may characterise the contemporary art world, an over-utilisation of technology in sport and exercise worlds, or a mode of over-thinking that society demands of a ‘grown-up’. The ‘anti’ in the title of the programme is a pun on the title of the Festival – Anti – which in the Finnish language refers to ‘gift’. For 25-minutes, let us enjoy the gift of playing an anti-adult. Un-learn your habits, and learn from children. Behave as a wayward child. Defy the grown-ups in us who reprimand ‘walk, don’t run’. Be self-consciously un-self-conscious. Throw tantrums. In short, enjoy some un-adulterated fun fun fun, and RUN! RUN! RUN!
NEXT RUN: ON STEROIDS!
- pumped up on steroids or rather sugar high: more exaggerated, more playful, more subversive. Role-reversal and adults’ relinquishing of power to be made clearer, more extreme, darker, lighter .
- the teaching / pedagogical aspects will be made a lot more explicit – children to, as a group, man-handle adults to instruct them the correct moves
- props: use of loudhailer, whistles and suchlike as accents to soundscape, as well as to accentuate above points
- the children will go around to call, cajole, strongly urge shy/passive/indifferent bystanders and passersby to join in the fun. CF: Lord of the Flies, The Tin Drum.
Running into each other: RUN! RUN! RUN! A Collaboration
Focusing on the collaborative work between artist Dr Kai Syng Tan and social scientist Dr Alan Latham created through their research institute, the RUN! RUN! RUN! International Body for Research, this presentation introduced the ideas of ‘productive antagonisms’ and the potentiality for the artist to be a radical, ‘ill-disciplined’ mediator or common attractor in such a partnership (-in-crime).
The use of the plural in the term ‘productive antagonisms’ reflects its promiscuous origins that Alan and Kai have drawn from their respective disciplines and beyond. They include: psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s ‘potential space’, ancient philosopher Lao Zi’s ‘gentle anarchism’ and being ‘old children’, philosopher/provocateur Peter Sloterdijk’s ‘spaces of coexistence’ as well as soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s montage.
Kai and Alan ran through some of their past, ongoing and future activities that they use to test out, extend, work with/through the concept. One of these is the RUN! RUN! RUN! International Festival of Running (Summer 2014, Slade Research Centre, UK) which was a runaway success covered in the Guardian newspaper, and which has since inspired and helped to kickstart other running-centred research efforts as well as events and activities in the academic and arts sectors. This includes the interdisciplinary Running Cultures Research Group, which consists of academics artists, designers, runners and non-runners keen to explore and extend running beyond its traditional repertoire of health and sport science. #antiadultrunrunrun was another example of such an exploration. Indeed, the cultivation of misbehaviour in such a structured manner captures the (paradoxical) tension behind productive antagonisms. What is also powerful about this concept is that it is made and indeed made up as the pair develop their collaborative work; it takes shape, gets ripped apart and parts disposed of, and others consolidated, and tested in the real world. Far from being precious and perfect-on-paper, productive antagonisms is rough, and gets roughened up.
The presentation self-consciously performed and played out a form of productive antagonism. The scripted talk was accompanied by a set of images and (inter-)textual mappings. Text and image dance/tease/battle with one another in a manner that aimed to not just playfully provoke, but entice and invite the audience to join Kai and Alan in their interdisciplinary practice-related RUN! RUN! RUN! exercises.
RELATED OUTPUTS AND LINKS
- Overview, gallery and further reading: http://kaisyngtan.com/antiadultrun
- 2015 ANTI Festival video overview: https://vimeo.com/144658511
- 2015 ANTI Festival programme: http://www.antifestival.com/2015/eng/programme/
- 2015 seminar presentation on Art of Endurance at Kuopio Academy of Design, Finland: https://vimeo.com/145036633
- 2015 Real Time Arts (Australia) review: http://www.realtimearts.net/article/issue129/12051
- 2015 Newspaper and radio (in Finnish): http://yle.fi/uutiset/kuopiolaislapset_pitivat_aikuisille_mestarikurssin_juoksemisesta_opettaja_sanoi_etta_vanhat_ei_enaa_taivu/8282970
- 2015 talk Helsinki University at the invitation of Professor Sirpa Tani, Professor of Geography and Environmental Education
- 2016 Royal Geographical Society RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2016 programme:http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/6ad2fe24-2614-40f6-9e1b-9953a5ccb915
- 2016 RGS-IBG performance-lecture script: https://www.academia.edu/29348572/2016_antiadultrun_and_a_rough_guide_to_productive_antagonisms_Royal_Geographical_Society_UK_
- Forthcoming: journal article Geohumanities, with Dr Alan Latham