IRMA 2Mathematician Irma Optimist started doing performance art in 1989. Since then she has performed at dozens of festivals, museums and galleries all over the world. During the beginning of her career, she was famous for the ironic and parodying aspects of her performances. These were directed as criticism of the prevalent masculine concept of art. Many of the works were interactive and simultaneous, based on mathematical dynamics of chaos.
In most of her work, Irma Optimist has been very personal, discussing the conditions of identity, femininity, death. Gender, locality and nature have been her themes. The works themselves are transformations, in which the existence of the artist is connected to ritual and live installation.
In Finland Irma Optimist has been nearly everywhere and out of Finland she has performed in the festivals, in the events and also invited to do the solo performances.
Irma Optimist has also acted as a curator and brought many well-known international performance artists to events she has organised in Finland. Since 2000, she has been involved in organising Là-bas, a permanent forum for living art and experimental culture. This project has succeeded in realising the ideas of contemporary theory concerning non-hierarchical strategies of organisation and rhizome-like networks. The forum continues to operate as a situation-specific and site-specific continuum both in Finland and internationally. The experimental space Studio Là-bas is located at Cable Factory, Helsinki.
Irma Optimist has got in Finland 2012 the Lifetime Achievement Award of Finnish Art Society and 2013 the State Prize of Art. In 2013, the students of Turku School of Economics voted her Teacher of the Year.