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Riitta Ikonen

What is your practice?

I am an artist originally from the deep eastern forests of Finland. A fresh New Yorker and a keen collaborator I work mainly with photographers and costumes for communicative purposes.


What is your definition of Play?

On good days work and play are the same thing. It would be great if those two words were reversible. ‘Hobbies would instantly become obsolete. I was always a bit puzzled by what to put in that ‘hobbies’ column (in all kinds of applications). A certain percentage of the work I do could I guess be called play. Playwork. Filling in a tax return just a minute ago was pretty far from my idea of play. For a nice work/play ratio it’s probably good I didn’t look for a playful career in accounting... But I bet someone really likes playing around with taxes! It’s personal. I guess I prefer more tangible, handleable play. I had never looked up the definition of ‘Play’ before..Engaging in activity for enjoyment

And recreation. Rather than a serious or practical purpose.Have you heard the saying: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? Enough said.


How would you relate play and creativity?

Playing - improvising- following that good gut feeling, just because. Not being in a rush to tick a box or produce. It’s hard to be very creative in a huge rush, (though deadlines are very motivating). Taking the friendly risk for a walk without a sight of the shadow of the menacing real risk.

Would problem solving be playing? Sometimes it is just about finding out for yourself. The colour theory is there for all to know it is there, but isn’t it great to play and find out yourself how it all works.(Bridget Riley spoke very nicely about that at Frieze 2011) I guess not being so aware of what is being done let’s the unknown creep in, and that is what makes it (my workplay) interesting. Enjoying what you are doing right that moment instead of focusing on what needsTo come out of that blob. Not looking into the long telescope... Like mentally going ‘out’, just out, not to buy milk, or to see Mandy, or to run the hundred meters, but just out. Like a moody teenager, maybe even slamming the door on the way out, just because. Doing things ‘just because’ is good for you, dare I say healthy even.

Daydreaming. Is that playing? As Max Comfort once famously said as he was prepping us rca lot for the final show:‘Daydreaming is a time management tool- whats the hurry? Things often get a bit stuffy when you box them... Even talking about play now makes me go off play slightly...


What do you do in your practice that you feel is most relevant to play?

Am I a playful artist? Maybe. The work looks entertaining to some. Would that make me playful? It has some unpredictable branches I guess. I do purposefully try to

Wrap my practice in as much ‘enjoyment and recreation’ as possible, rather than the’serious and practical’. In most projects I work with other people, it’s easier and more fun to play together. Making fun work is often deadserious. Deadserious play. Even the most fun play projects have a percentage of the workdeath to them, but one tries to keep that to a manageable percentage of the overall mountain (or hire people to whom that dreaded task is play.)


Could you specifically outline one piece of your most ‘playful’ workand explain what you expect from the audience/viewers in terms ofreactions and experiences?

Most playful....Some of the workshops I do where other people can come play, are playful. Setting up play for others is very very very hard though, and not one of my favourite things.. The Eyes as Big as Plates Series has been pretty playful. Seniors know how to play properly, there is no holding back with them. Good play is honest play.