Alisa M. Hecke and Julian Rauter jointly realize interdisciplinary projects between performance and installation; their multi-layered text structures, sound or image collages are shown in theaters and exhibition contexts. The recurring motif is the (stage) body and its representation, and they research the perception and attribution of liveliness and corporeality on stage. Since 2016, they have been researching the paradigm shift of natural history collections in the course of global ecological changes. These are becoming places of remembrance of vanished animal species, which are apparently brought back to life here, prepared and preserved by taxidermists.
But where does this human need to collect relics of organic life and pass them on to posterity come from?
In a series of interviews Hecke/Rauter have dealt with the process of taxidermy and its protagonists. Their confessions provide information about the human desire for preservation – and their strategies of conservation – natural diversity and aesthetic diversity. With the audio installation, the documented material is created as a temporary storage space for visualization and memory.
The research forms the material corpus for the interdisciplinary art project “The Big Sleep”, which will take place in theatres and natural history museums in Germany and Switzerland in 2020.
The Big Sleep
We want to preserve everything, everything, everything – not for a life afterwards, but for the future. For this world, not the hereafter, but actually, if possible, forever.
Sabrina Beutler, taxidermist from Düdingen (CH)
With “The Big Sleep”, the theatre makers Alisa M. Hecke and Julian Rauter explore the fascination of taxidermy. How do bodies function as carriers of memory? What are the aesthetic premises according to which dead matter is created in taxidermy? And how does this craft succeed in creating the illusion of liveliness? In their artistic approach they regard taxidermy as a cultural practice that tries to resist decay and forgetting. On the basis of interviews with taxidermists in the field of museum, hunting and pet taxidermy, they are developing four different artistic formats on this topic (performance, scenic installation, short piece, audio installation and radio play), which will be shown at theatres, festivals and museums in Germany and Switzerland in 2020.
For the performance “The Big Sleep”, which will be performed at the Residenz des Schauspiels Leipzig, the Theaterdiscounter Berlin and Roxy Birsfelden, a still life of performers and taxidermists will be created. The central question is how (in)animated bodies transport memories and narratives and freeze time.