Whoroscope is Samuel Beckett’s first poem (published in Paris in 1930), where the understanding and interpreting of time through a horoscope is described as an absurd and multi-layered perversion of time. Kekäläinen’s version, Whorescope, centres on the female body and the way a woman is gazed upon: on the scope as an instrument of looking. Being under a gazing eye creates a paradoxical need, an awkward necessity, to turn everything visible into spectacle, including the transformation of a multifaceted female body into a limited object – and a dancing woman into a beautifully moving figure.
The last scene of Whorescope develops along with Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Kekäläinen takes two buckets, one of them filled with water, and calmly pours the water several times from one to the other. Putting the buckets on the floor, she then places herself in a crawling position, with her right hand in an empty bucket, and the left inside the one filled with water (‘the beginning of life’). She puts a tomato (‘a fruit of the earth’) in her mouth, and an electric fan placed in front of her blows air (‘oxygen’) on her face. Simultaneously a solitary spotlight (‘the sun’) slowly lights up to illuminate the composition. With the eyes closed, Kekäläinen’s body brings together all these symbols of life, turning itself into an instrument of nature, where all life circulates.
But the image also hides an acid sarcasm: the wind caressing Kekäläinen’s face turns out to be ‘the kiss of all foul and sweet air’ of Beckett’s poem. The composition resembles an elaborated banquet, whose centre is a corpse holding a fruit of the earth in the mouth. The main course of this dinner is Kekäläinen, prepared to be served to the guests; to the spectators of the performance. Her body is once more pro-statuere, set and exposed for enjoyment, and in this ritual the audience is invited to devour her with their gazes. Her body is the wine and bread of The Last Supper, a Eucharistic body, also the symbol of an eternal life, and ‘So we drink Him and eat Him’ as Beckett describes in his poem. But Kekäläinen’s simulated body, transformed into a spectacle with a re-drawn caricatured gender, turns out to be ‘watery Beaune and the stale cubes of Hovis’; a ruined and low-priced product, emptied from all sacred and beauty.
This final composition of Whorescope crystallises several central elements of Kekäläinen’s work. Her body is simultaneously terrestrial and naked, but also penetrated by an abstract and sacred way of being: visible and hidden, under the gaze but intensively connected to an intimate and private corporeality. It is sublime but at the same time shoddy, a work of art but also deformed by the spirit of consumerism. In Whorescope Kekäläinen balances between a sacred ritual and a capitalistic prostitution of the body, identical to Beckett’s poem’s paradoxical ‘Porca Madonna’, materialised in the last scene. She gives an ironic wink of the eye at the entire tradition of representation, particularly at the field of dance, whose relationship to the female body is especially vulnerable to (visual) prostitution.
The knot of paradoxes constructed in Whorescope’s last scene swirls around itself once more when the Goldberg Variations continue with a recording of Glenn Gould rehearsing Bach’s demanding composition. The music is constantly interrupted by mistakes, wrong notes and the pianist’s comments on his own playing. Still, the sounds transmit an extreme sensitivity and tenderness, a special dedication when touching the keyboard. Gould ceased giving concerts when at the peak of his career, wanting instead of a virtuous musical spectacle to offer an intimate sonorous experience to the listeners: music recorded at his home, something The Goldberg Variations are part of as well. When the imperfect but remarkably sensitive music fills the space, Kekäläinen opens her eyes, washes her hands in the bucket, and eats the tomato she has been holding in her mouth. In a fraction of a second, the commodity becomes a consumer, a practical and slightly confused human being, who bathetically picks up her clothes and abandons the stage.