Do Canadian Silence and Finnish Silence Feel the Same? A Performance at the New Performance Turku Festival in Finland


Cindy boatI am delighted to announce that I will be presenting a durational and site-specific performance piece during the New Performance Turku Festival this October 2017: Canadian Silence.

New Performance Turku Festival is an international festival for performance and live art, organized annually around Turku, Finland – this year between October 6-8th.

In preparing for the performance, I consulted with the curator. Having recently learned of a tradition in Swedish culture called kura skymning (or “keeping dusk”; a time when farming families would sit together in total silence to mark the transition between day and evening) I wanted to see whether such a tradition also exists/existed in Finland. Apparently it does not, however, another similar feature of Finnish behaviour, in particular with regards to social interactions, does. It is known as Finnish Silence. It’s not uncommon for Finns to spend long periods of time in the company of others sitting together and not talking. According to the curator, “We just sit, listening to our own thoughts. No one feels the silence is uncomfortable, it is actually more comforting.”

In a kind of cultural exchange, my peformative action is therefore going to be an open invitation for interested citizens of Turku to come join me at the riverfront, while we sit in Canadian Silence. No cell phones or tablets will be permitted; no texting, no picture taking. Instead, in collective non-action, I will accompany those who participate, who in turn will accompany me: observing our thoughts as we observe the river. After having spent this time in a deliberate moment of Doing Nothing, upon a participant’s departure, I will distribute a small leaflet with the question: Do Canadian and Finnish silence feel the same? Participants will then have the opportunity to respond to an email address included in the leaflet. With permission, replies and comments will then be compiled here…

Pictured above, the Cindy boat – the site for our upcoming Canadian Silence.

With special thanks to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) for supporting my travel to Finland.

Author: Victoria Stanton

Montreal-based performance artist, writer, and educator Victoria Stanton explores live action, human interaction, video, film, photography, and drawing.

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