Black Mercedes (“Niko Hallikainen_Black Mercedes”): Niko Hallikainen, Black Mercedes, 2021. Baltic Circle International Theater Festival, Helsinki, FI. Photo: Tani Simberg.

Niko Hallikainen

Calling upon past generations of New York artists such as John Giorno and David Wojnarowicz, novelist and performance-poet Niko Hallikainen will premiere Lavender Deal, a reflection on a pandemic-era romance. Hallikainen weaves personal experiences with historical collective memories through a “séance” summoning the spirits of New York’s queer artistic legends to navigate longing, love, and loss in contemporary life. A co-production with Tibet House.

Niko Hallikainen, Black Mercedes, 2021. Baltic Circle International Theater Festival, Helsinki, FI. Photo: Tani Simberg.


Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street
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Photo: Viivi Huuska

Lavender Deal

Niko Hallikainen (b. 1989, Helsinki, FI) is a performance poet and novelist whose text-based works delve into themes of class, sexuality, romance, collective grief, and mysticism. His durational performances intertwine personal narratives and historical collective memory, drawing from all facets of popular culture and urban life to underscore how societal shifts profoundly influence the human condition. For his New York debut at the Finnish Pavilion Without Walls, Hallikainen will reflect on desire and loss through the narrative of a romance in Lavender Deal. The text, which unfolds as a site-specific, two-part narrative, concerns a pandemic-era relationship over Zoom with a long-distance lover whose course shifts once they plan to meet in person.

Calling on the titans of New York’s queer art and literary scenes of the 1970s and 1980s as “guiding spirits,” Hallikainen contextualizes longing and solitude through the art and writing of iconoclastic cultural figures such as David Wojnarowicz, William S. Burroughs, and John Wieners in an intergenerational “séance” inspired by poet John Giorno’s Buddhist ceremonies. During the performance, Hallikainen will incorporate live sound mixing and scents to create a multi-sensory poetic narrative.

Curated by Job Piston, Curator at Large

Note to the audience: The performance includes sexually explicit language.

About Niko Hallikainen

Finnish writer and performance poet Niko Hallikainen’s selected solo performances include Forms of the Surrounding Future, Götborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden, 2023; Mystery Machine, Drifts Festival, 2022; Black Mercedes, Baltic Circle, 2021; Heat (blood moons & trapdoors), Kosminen, 2020; Low Income Glow, EHKÄ productions, Kutomo, 2019; Blue Exhaust, Mad House Helsinki, 2018. He recently participated in Symposium: Open Up and Shape Helsinki, PUBLICS, 2022. He has published two Finnish language novels including Suuri Märkä Salaisuss, 2023, and Kanjoni, 2021. Hallikainen is the recipient of several grants and residencies including Mind the Gap Residency, ACME Fire Station, London (2023) and Kone Foundation (2021). He teaches creative writing in the dance performance program at the University of Arts, Helsinki, and was most recently recognized as Helsinki Writer of the Year in 2023.


Co-produced with Tibet House US.


The Finnish Pavilion Without Walls is supported by Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland, Saastamoinen Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Institute New York, FRAME, and Consulate General Finland.


Scenographer: Man Yau

Sound Engineer: Isaac Silber

Performa Team

Curator at Large: Job Piston

Performa 2023 Associate Producer: Sunmi Yong

Performa 2023 Fellow: Jurgis Lusis