2019 JULY

Architect Tuula Jeker plays with scale and direction

Ilmatila: Huhu. Performer Ilona Jäntti, image Harri Ahokas.

Tuula Jeker will spend July 2019 in residency in New York observing the city’s spatial diversity and working on a project combining architecture, animation and contemporary circus.

Specializing in refurbishment of listed buildings, Jeker works as a project architect at Anttinen Oiva Architects. Recently she has been focusing on the development of an old factory block in Helsinki’s district of Arabia, her previous projects include for example the renovation of the Helsinki City Museum.

Ilmatila: Atlas. Performer Ilona Jäntti, image Tuula Jeker.

“Restoring an old building gives a completely different baseline for the design process. I like the challenge of applying design to existing surroundings."

Along with working as an architect, Jeker is also part of a Helsinki-based contemporary circus company Ilmatila. Founded by Jeker and aerialist and choreographer Ilona Jäntti, Ilmatila produces performances that combine Jäntti’s aerial acrobatics with animated projections by Jeker. Combining animated projections with aerial acrobatics enables the creation of a space without physical elements or limitations, such as gravity. The performances often explore how direction and scale change with the performer’s movement.

Ilmatila was founded in 2007, and the group’s first performance has been touring around the world since 2009. This fall Jeker is going to deepen her skills by starting set design studies at the Aalto University’s Master’s Program.

“I first got intrigued by animation because it enabled me to explore movement in space and that’s what we have since been doing with the Ilmatila performances. I think that the upcoming set design studies are a very natural continuum for combining my architectural proficiency with performing arts.”

Ilmatila: Muualla – Elsewhere. Performer Ilona Jäntti, image Chiara Contrino.

During her residency in New York Jeker will animate a scene for a performance that premieres at the Helsinki Festival in August 2019. The aim of the performance is to challenge the spectators’ visual perception and to turn it upside-down. The animated scene doubles as an independent piece that can be displayed in different scales on various surfaces and spaces without the performer. However, the aerialist adds depth to the animation’s directions, scales, sizes and atmosphere, giving a new perspective to all of the elements.