Investigating radicalization with Tanja Turpeinen






During the past two weeks a group of artists representing different fields of art, from Norway, Sweden and Finland have been working together on a physical theatre project with the working title ’White Beauty’. The project research and investigates the radicalization process and extremist movements, dealing with questions of how and why radicalization happens.

Tanja Turpeinen initiator of the project elaborates:

–  Our main interest has been in the radicalization process. During this residency we have been asking what is radicalization and what are the mechanics behind a radicalization process? How does it take place in the society, in us or in the nature? What happens when something or someone gets radicalized? What kind of effects does it have and what marks does it leave? What kind of movement does it create, include or exclude and what could trigger the radicalization process in us? We have also asked ourselves; how do we define the “normal” we get radicalized from? We have been curious of what are our personal borders or the borders in society or nature. What is the connection between defining our borders and the process of radicalization? Another important topic has been; how are the psychology of persuasion and the marketing manipulation technics connected with extreme movements and radicalization?

Basically during the residencyat we have been posing many questions about the topic and about our ethics, personal boarders as artists and how the structure our work effects the material we create. We have had a broad exploration of us as a new group and of the topics during these initial two weeks.

I (Tanja) and Daniel Klingen Borg initiated this work when we were both studying a master in physical theatre in Switzerland 2014-2016. We wanted to do a performance about the rhetoric and aesthetics of different extremist movements and the radicalization process in the Scandinavian societies. We invited Moa Asklöf Prescott, Riikka Niemistö, Sara Guldmyr, Mikko Niemistö and Silja Kauppinen to take part in the project. Some of us in the group have worked together before but never in this combination and some of us only met for the very first time at in April 2017. We come from circus, dance, theatre, performance, design for performing arts and fine arts. This is why these two weeks have been important to us purely to get to know each other as people and artists. It has been important to understand how we work separately and how can we work together.

Our project has expanded from our original interest during the residency at and we are still looking for its direction and postponing making too definite decisions yet. At we really allowed us to be curious, open and broad with the topic and methods of work. We talked a lot about this big topic of radicalization and extremism and approached it from various angles without judging or having the need to keep in mind the end result. We tried to understand what are the diverse interests and needs of the different group members concerning the topic. We tried to listen to each other. Our working methods are quite democratic. During the residency every group member lead the group at some point and every body had the space and opportunity to express their opinions. The exercises were very diverse due to the different artistic practices and pasts we have and due to our interest not to narrow the research into a specific direction yet. Sometimes we approached the topic in a very direct manner by just taking a role of extremist onstage and researching the texts, symbols and videos of extremists’ movements. Other times we researched for example the boarders in our everyday life or radicalization in nature or had a post humanistic or humoristic research interest to the topic. We researched the topic by improvising, creating movement material, abstract and literal expressions, text, short demos and by discussing about it a lot. We tried to be daring, take risk and be politically incorrect but at the same time maintain an ethical discussion about the reasons and goals we want to have with our work.

The space at had a big impact to our work. The big and luminous room allowed us to do very interesting spatial explorations and feel very comfortable and safe in our research. We took advantage of the big windows of the studio and the view they offered. The big windows and the two different entrances also abled us to play with the division of an outer space and inner space in our improvisation. The forms and shapes in and of the space and the objects in it were valid material in our short demos and exercises.  Also the possibility to eat and cook together enhanced the community spirit in the group and some of the lunch discussions proved to be very fruitful to us and to the work.


This residency at were a really good and luxurious start to our work. Next time our group meets in Denmark in May/June, when we have a residency at DYNAMO, Odensee. From there we go to Finland for few weeks in June/July to rehearse at Korjaamo Theatre, where we also have a premier in September 2017. After the premier we present the work at Bergen, Norway, at BIT Teatergarasjen at the Meteor Festival in October 2017. After the performances we have already agreed that we will try to find more venues in Scandinavia and maybe outside it as well to show our work. was the starting point of our journey.

Korjaamo Theatre and BIT Teatergarasjen are co-production partners of the project. The project has also been supported by Nordic Culture Point, The Nordic Culture Fund, Arts Council Norway, Fritt Ord (Norway) and city of Helsinki.