Departures and Arrivals



Clandestine sites: on Veli Lehtovaara
Rita Natálio



Clandestine Sites



Dear reader,


The “Clandestine sites: Displaced” is Veli Lehtovaara’s new creation with coproduction from DNA partner ZODIAK and support in residence from VOORUIT. The premiere will be in October 2015 in the frame of Moving in November festival, Helsinki. In this project, Lehtovaara invites a group of artists (Chrysa Parkinson, Ville Ahonen, Eleanor Bauer, Mikko Hynninen and Timo Wright) to create a work where performance is considered as an amorous (love) relation, there is, a triangular relation  between audience, performer and author from where the performance can emerge.

The primary text of this creation is Roland Barthes “A Lover's Discourse – Fragments” (1977), and additional references as “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf (1927) and “The Pleasure of The Text” (1973) also by Barthes. In the process of creation, the work with each invited artist is developed autonomously, and each collaboration is thus a facet of Barthes multilayered book. The performance will be a series of solos, which all drive from the same initial proposition.

From March 31 to April 18 Veli was in residency in Vooruit and during this period, he generated a dialogue with me through letters, where he wrote about his collaboration with the artists involved. It caught my interest the fact that the “letter”  format also expresses the pair presence-absence that is revealed every time one addresses the beloved one. After all, when one writes a letter to another, the other is present and absent at the same time, which reveals the performativity of the “medium”

That is the reason I am now writing to you, my beloved reader. I want to experiment the territory that Veli has granted me with his new research on the amorous relationship. While I write you this letter, I cannot help to remember that love also demands a devotion to the art of deciphering the other, as Deleuze has put it in “Proust and Signs” (1964). Paradoxically, the more the lover pursues to decipher the “signs” of the beloved one, the more he/she fails to decode the other. This failure - to understand why the “beloved one” is “lovable” or what characteristics he/she has that makes him /her more lovable than others - guarantees the amorous relationship between both parts as  it maintains the enigma. In Lehtovaara’s project, we can also imagine that the performance is guaranteed by the “imperfect” and always “incomplete” exercise of deciphering: one has to decipher the relation between performer and spectator, one has to decipher the relation between the author (Veli) and other authors (the invited artists), one has to decipher the relation between  the project “Clandestine Sites: displaced” and Roland Barthes “A Lover's Discourse – Fragments”. While each point is attracted to another, multiple undecipherable signs are offered to maintain the amorous tension. The process is always incomplete, and that it’s why it worths our attention.


Dear reader, I hope this form of love will please you: to decipher a work that still has no name.



Rita Natálio

©Timo Wright



(edited by Rita Natálio)

April 7th 2015 (TRAIN Brussels-Gent)

Dear Rita,


I travel each day from Brussels, back and forth, the train takes around 30 min.  I'd like to write you in this fragmented way, during train travels, a letter about the project/creation “Lover’s D”. At the moment I’m working with Eleanor Bauer at Vooruit, this is the first period in a studio with her. Next week I'll continue with Ville Ahonen and Timo Wright. Ville is a singer-songwriter and Timo is an artist working with moving image and photography. They are both from Helsinki. With Ville I've been working already from the end of December 2013 onwards in short periods and after that he continued to work independently.


Now I'm arriving to Gent.




April 8th (TRAIN Gent-Brussels)

Dear Rita,

With Chrysa Parkinson I have been working on the absence of the performer in relation to the audience and the performance itself. She will not be physically present, maybe she will appear more like a ghost who left traces in the space. The performance is touring into a haunted site. Conceptually, this absence resonates well with Barthes writing on “A Lover’s Discourse” because the underlying condition for writing is the absence of the other.  But as we're making a performance it becomes complicated, because the primary condition of a dance or a live performance is that there is a performer and a spectator in the same time and place. So how can we keep on working?

For now, we have decided that we will primarily work with scores and letters. Scores and letters share some qualities or defining properties, both negotiate with future and may refer to past, they try to create or suggest a certain presence, the presence of the other, the absent one, or as Barthes would put it “the other who is present as an allocution (the one who is addressed) and absent as referent (the one whom writing refers to)”.

Here-by a letter that Chrysa wrote  addressing the performance itself as the beloved one. It is material of the performance, for that reason I'd appreciate if you would not share it with any third person for now.


Here it is,



April 9th (TRAIN Brussels-Gent)


Dear Rita,


Today I caught myself thinking ‘what does it mean to name a thing that has not been created yet?’ I caught myself thinking that the piece will not be ready by the premiere and that is a calming thought. In the train, I remembered that Barthes compares the form of his book “The Lover’s Discourse” to a train full of compartments that you pass-by while reading. He also uses divisors like “figures” and “sections” and I wonder how to apply these notions to choreography and performance. For instance, could a song be a “figure”?

For now, one of the central questions of my work is: What if the spectator-performer relation is considered an amorous one (a romantic love relation)? But what do I mean with amorous? I guess “amorous” can be used in the sense of romantic love. I tend to approach this word from a "classical" point of view, as unfulfilled desire. The “beloved one” is always somewhere else, the relation being always incomplete. We have to imagine the distance from “here” where I am and “there” where you are. It leans heavily on the concept of transcendence.

But, as Ville (Ahonen) (the singer) pointed out, every friendship is also a love relation. In “A Lover's Discourse”, there is a paragraph  related to friendship where Barthes quotes Nietzsche which is very nice:

"We were friends and have become estranged. But this was right, and we do not want to conceal and obscure it from ourselves as if we had reason to feel ashamed. We are two ships each of which has its goal and course; our paths may cross and we may celebrate a feast together, as we did – and then the good ships rested so quietly in one harbor and on sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the mighty force of our tasks drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we shall never see each other again; perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us."

Until soon,


April 13th (TRAIN Brussels-Gent)

Today I continued working with Ville Ahonen on his part. The structure  is a kind of a solo concert where Ville will play some songs, mostly covers which lyrics he has been rewriting during this and last year.

Here is some of the songs Ville is working on:

Without you, Harry Nilson
Wicked game, Chris Isaak
Song To the Siren, Tim Buckley
In A Manner of Speaking, Tuxedomoon
I'm on Fire, Bruce Springsteen


Lyrics will be reordered with Barthes’ text fragments. In parallel, Timo is working on video material that will also bring some text fragments and perhaps some images.

In this collaboration, my focus is clearly the gesture of singing and the voice of a body, how the singing body is in some terms “already dancing”.

Sorry, I notice that my writing has become a bit casual and more practical today! I'll try to curve back ! Also if you have questions, please let me know!




April 16th (TRAIN Brussels-Gent)

Hi Rita,


Some ideas on absence;

On reading “A Lover's Discourse” with Chrysa we came up at least four levels of absence in the book.

1st the absence of the beloved and his/her/their voice.

2nd the absence of the lover to whose voice Barthes is articulating in his writing.

3rd the absence of the author, although his voice momentarily becomes very present and in the process it has been almost like Barthes himself was walking within the room or standing behind the door in the hallway while we worked with (Chrysa Parkinson) in my old apartment on Boulevard Leopold II.

4th the absence of the site for a lover’s voice to be heard, and that is the motive for Barthes to write the book, the necessity as he names it; the book is an attempt to create this site.

I'll keep on writing,