Mikko Niemistö’s new piece is inspired by trance, dreams, poems and emotional political texts

Emma Vainio / Finnish Dance in Focus 2022, 12.9.2022

Mikko Niemistö is a choreographer, performance artist and curator with a professional background in various styles of movement and contemporary performance practices. His work centers around areas that exist in the outskirts of physical realities and linear time – like dreams and digital realms. Niemistö was interviewed in Finnish Dance in Focus 2022 magazine.

Niemistö’s new work Wakey-wakey will be premiered in Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki September 22. The contemporary dance performance creates a psychedelic space that promotes transitions from one layer of the subconscious to another. It is inspired by trance as well as dreams, poems and emotional political texts.

Mikko Niemistö: Wakey-Wakey © Pirje Mykkänen, Kansallisgalleria & Sofia Pyy

“Whilst my roots lie firmly in dance expression, I’ve always felt myself to be something of a wanderer in the arts,” Mikko Niemistö explains in Finnish Dance in Focus 2022 magazine, pensively.

During the course of his career he has studied physical theatre in Spain, undertaken theatre studies in Finland, and graduated as a choreographer with a Master’s Degree in New Performative Practices from Stockholm’s School of Dance and Circus – DOCH.

I’m fascinated by a kind of roughness and unorthodoxy

When it comes to making art, Niemistö feels most at home with and inspired by choreography and dance, but he struggles to restrict himself to one specific framework. “I’ve been fascinated by a kind of roughness and unorthodoxy,” he explains.

Niemistö explores with interest how the human body can simultaneously hold monstrosity and filth, but also magnificence and poetic quality. “Corporal art is excellent when it comes to creating dialogue with these contradictions concealed within the human body,” the artist contemplates.

Mikko Niemistö has played an active role in the operations of performing arts centre Mad House Helsinki, which was founded and is run by artists. Niemistö, Elina Pirinen and Sonja Jokiniemi form the curator team of the international BAD HOUSE festival. In 2020, Mad House Helsinki, which is collectivist in nature and constantly strives to diversify its international programmes, was awarded the State Prize for the Performing Arts.

I want to take the audience somewhere where the basic norms of society cease to exist or are turned on their head

Niemistö’s previous piece, swelteringly physical, sweaty and ritualistic Odd Meters (2020) brings to the stage not only echoes of the constant presence of entertainment favoured by the digital world, but also feelings and messages from the artist’s own dreams. “Dreams sift the flow of thoughts into symbolic language, through which I can process things without too much emphasis,” explains Niemistö.

“I want to take my audiences to a liminal place, somewhere where the basic norms of society cease to exist or are turned on their head.”