The big sleep TRY-OUT (2019)

Die 20-minütige szenische Skizze THE BIG SLEEP zeigt eine Assemblage aus Menschen und Tieren, flankiert von einer Live-Präparation. Inmitten von Tierpräparaten geben drei Performer*innen soufflierte Interviewauszüge wieder, die von den Obsessionen und Reflexionen zoologischer Präparator*innen handeln. Sie sprechen über Haustierpräparation, schlafende Tiere, das Wesen des Tieres im Präparat und den Wunsch des Erhaltenwollens. Im Rahmen von Dirty Debüt#4 untersuchen Hecke/Rauter die befremdliche Intimität zwischen lebendigen Körpern, leblosen Objekten und fremden Texten, in der Leben - menschliches wie tierisches - betrachtet, erinnert und befragt werden kann.

Dirty Debüt #4 Sleep
Sophiensaele Berlin

08. Februar 2019

KONZEPT Alisa Hecke, Julian Rauter PERFORMANCE Martin Clausen, Angelika Waniek, Katrin Wiedemann LIVE-PRÄPARATION Lydia Mäder

©Anna Agliardi
©Anna Agliardi
©Anna Agliardi
©Anna Agliardi

What can I tell you – taxidermy, baby! The programme leaflet contextualises the performance as a “preview of their current research project” in which “they mount both (in-)animated bodies and display the motives, aesthetics and obsessions of a profession that presupposes death in order to create an illusion of life”. In clear contrast to the earlier performances, the stage here is filled with very many objects (inanimate, that is boars and rabbits and birds stuffed and mounted), living human bodies (one female taxidermist, and three performers dressed in remarkably orange shirts) and a cat in between being a carcass and becoming cat again (prepared live during the 20 minute long performance. Earlier, I learned that it is a Saxon cat, road kill from a couple of days before). “Das Tier ist tot. Das Tier ist weg.” (The animal is dead. The animal is gone). One of the first lines to be spoken by one of the performers who have their lines transmitted to them via headphones and then speak unrehearsed, sometimes seemingly surprised, sometimes with a small delay while standing, or moving slowly through the assembled dead/gone animals on stage. Sometimes, later, one will caress the white rabbit about which we learn that they are most difficult to prepare due to the amount of pink skin visible. The words that we hear are segments of interviews with taxidermists, namely the one who sits on stage at a table preparing the dead cat. “Sobald der Hund (or in this case: the cat) tot ist, ist der Hund tot. Ich kann nur so tun, als wäre er noch da.” I giggle. I love the facticity and seriousness such banal yet deeply profound contemplations are being presented with. The comic effect it has for me. And am particularly moved by the way the performers are delivering their lines – detachedly, with a mostly monotone voice, with clearly marked artificiality that remains respectful to the seriousness of a profession and its motivation. Nothing is real here, and everything is utterly real (if dead, but what is death if not real). Taxidermy, I realise during the performance, may have a lot to do with acting on stage, the way of representing/presenting a character. An echo of the real thing and, paradoxically, much more real because it surrounds me here and now. Both the representation in acting and in preparing dead animals to appear alive and in situ again, necessitate and make impossible the real thing to exist and to perceive. “Die Endlichkeit macht wertvoll, das drohende Verschwinden.” Too quickly, the precious glimpse into this research is over.

Kristin Flade: About Sleep


The Big Sleep starred a skinned dead cat, that entered the stage in a bucket. The person carrying it takes a seat at a table, turns on a working light and goes on to make a sketch of the body, then to apply its skin to a model of a cat. This skillful paradox – the live taxidermy – is an anchor of the performance, the precise, but also surprisingly ordinary task of preserving something from withering in time, at least for the moment of a rest of a human life. Meanwhile at the centre of the stage – that is filled with stuffed animals, a boar even, a white rabbit, too – three performers are presenting a text, that is derived from interviews with taxidermists. Among the highly reflective things we hear these interviewees say about their work via the performance is an impression about the people who want them to perform a taxidermy on their pets, say, a cat. These pet-owners, the performers keep telling us, are disavowing their animals' death, they want it to be less ordinary, more like the romantic titular Big Sleep. The problem is that it is not very much the cat, that materializes as stuffed animal, but a cat, as a cat is the only cat a taxidermist can prepare. The singularity seems to get lost in the difference of taking a nap and death. The performance is a multi-layered investigation into these distinctions: between the liveness of a stage and and the being alive of an animal, between performative embodiment and disembodiment, between the red eyes a white rabbit has in the reality of a laboratory versus the black eyes the taxidermist chooses to make it look more natural.

Max*i Wallenhorst: A Poetics of Dissociation But Like Casual?