Esa Kirkkopelto
Artist in Residence


Esa Kirkkopelto is a philosopher, artist-researcher, and performance artist. His research focuses on the deconstruction of the performing body both in theory and in practice. In Spoleto, he developed new work in conversation with co-resident Michael Newman and his research around measure and measurement. For our Open Studios, Esa presented a performance titled Art as a Word: Diagrams, Gestures, Bodies. He described it as, “a 30minute performative research exposition which demonstrates how our speaking bodies turn into diagrams, and vice versa.” Outlining their ongoing research, Newman and Kirkkopelto write:

We started, inspired by the Sol LeWitt ‘studio drawings’ on the walls of the Vecchia Torre, thinking about measurement in the prosaic sense. This led us to the question of whether these drawings could be grasped as diagrams. Diagrams have been understood as ‘frozen gestures’. Gestures have simultaneously an operative and a contemplative aspect. If LeWitt’s drawings are based on an idea or instruction, what is the relation between the operations that produce the material drawing and the contemplation of the completed work by the viewer? Those operations, the actions that produce the drawing, have no other goal than that of making art. In modernity art comes to be about producing something without an end or extrinsic goal: that is why it communicates something of potentiality as such. We thought about the way in which LeWitt was affected by the frescoes of Giotto at Assisi. The colour to which LeWitt turns becomes the discovery of the quality of the potentiality. When we recognize a colour, we establish a relation to the degree of intensity of the potentiality. The goal of the gestures in those frescoes would be redemption. As art in the modern sense, the potential in LeWitt’s gestures lead rather, through the very ascesis of his method, to an endless play of variations.

Esa has worked as a professor of artistic research at the University of the Arts Helsinki (2007–2018) and Malmö Theatre Academy (Lund University, 2020–2022). He also holds the title of docent in aesthetics at the University of Helsinki. He is the leader of a collective research project Actor´s Art in Modern Times on psychophysical actor training (2008–2011), the initiator of the International Platform for Performer Training (since 2014), and core-convener of the Performance Philosophy association (2012–2022).

He took his Ph. D. in philosophy at the University of Strasbourg (2003) and is the author of Le théâtre de l´expérience. Contributions à la théorie de la scène (PUF 2008) as well as of numerous articles on the philosophy of performance, aesthetics and politics. He is the founding member of the Other Spaces live art group (2004–) specialized in the embodiment of more-than-human experiences (