(Photo: Juhana Pettersson, staged)

Portaikko (The Staircase) is a participatory installation created by Juhana Pettersson and Katri Lassila.

Synopsis: Portaikko is an installation about the loneliness of the fetishist. Those who enjoy mainstream sexuality have many potential partners with whom they can be understodd and express themselves. Those who have rare tastes have trouble finding others who share them. Each person who comes to the piece takes in the role of a fence fetishist, someone who has a sexual attraction to fences and walls.

He or she knocks on the door of a lover (played by an actor or actress), only to be told that the relationship is over. The other person will choose to deny unconventional urges and settle for the lie of a normal life.

Artist Statement

The goal with this piece was to create a five-minute single-player larp experience suitable for a gallery environment. The idea was to have a sharp individual event that would be the core of the artwork. In this way, it would be possible to have something approaching larp that could be sampled quickly, without the usual commitment of time and resources.

The particular subject of fence fetishism was inspired by the story of Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, the woman who fell in love with the Berlin Wall.

The physical setup of the piece consists of a staircase and an apartment door. The participant comes into the staircase alone, having read about the character she’s about to play, and knocks on the door. This knock was one of our principal design concepts, since we wanted to keep the beginning of the experience as simple as possible. The participants were told that after the knock, everything would flow on it’s own accord.


Portaikko was created for the Human Culture festival for participatory art, held in Imatra, Finland, in 2010, the 21st and 22nd of August. Actors: Katri Lassila & Jonne Arjoranta.


Staged photos from the Human Culture festival (Juhana Pettersson & Katri Lassila)

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