NOBA Põhja- ja Baltimaade kaasaegse kunsti keskkond
SILDID: NOBA Award´24  

The Thing About Clapping Games, 2024

100 x 100 cm

Video, rhyme

Clapping games are known all around the world. They are social games based on contact and spread orally from player to player. Though they seem lighthearted, they often contain heavy themes such as violence, war, gender inequality, etc. Like all play, clapping games are very exclusionary. They can’t be played alone and can be used as a way to mock or exclude people from the group. “The Thing About Clapping Games” explores themes of loneliness, longing, and the feeling of being an outsider through clapping games. The video is filmed in one take and presented as a real-sized projection on a wall. The piece can be experienced by only one person at a time. When the viewer enters the exhibition room, the wall is empty. When they pick up headphones and press a button, the character enters and begins the rhyme. Footprints on the floor in front of the wall guide the viewer closer. If the viewer attempts to stand there and interact with the character, their own shadow will block the projection. This evokes uncertainty, and the viewer may feel as if they are in the wrong place or unable to experience the piece as intended. In order to see the video, the viewer needs to keep a physical distance from the character. The text contains typical elements of a clapping game poem, including nonsense, puns, repetition, counting, and references to other media (finnish songs from Ultra Bra and Lea Laven). At first glance, the text seems fun and harmless. The scenes and imagery change quickly, and the listener can only comprehend fragments here and there. The speaker yearns for connection, both emotional and physical. They list things they have and things they don’t have, painting a picture of a lonely life. They compare themselves to a dog barking in an empty apartment, begging not to be left behind. Before the viewer knows it, the text starts falling apart and becomes more distressing as the character reveals their true emotions. At the very end, the words change into utter nonsense, forcing the viewer to become an outsider themselves. The performer in the video is charming Tekla Knuutila. “The Thing About Clapping Games” was part of Turku University of Applied Sciences Art Academy’s fine art department’s graduation exhibition (NYTT 2024) at Taiteen Talo Turku. It is the second part of a series of works that explore rhyme-based games and their darker undertones, with the first part being “The Thing About Skipping-Ropes” (2023)