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Susurrus meets Aerocene in Dresden

Maristella Svampa

Susurrus meets Aerocene in Dresden

Monday, 5th March

We had a successful launch on Monday the 5th of March, a cold but sunny afternoon in Dresden on the courtyard of Hellerau Festival Theatre. The building has a meaningful history: built in 1911 as a school of Rhythmics, following the 1930’s as a military camp; later the Soviet army used it as their barracks – in the 1990s the site was brought back to life through art. Today it hosts one of the most important interdisciplinary centres for contemporary arts in Germany, Hellerau – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden. Our international team was privileged to be given a two-week artist residency at Hellerau where we could concentrate on the development of our new transdisciplinary performance creation ‘Susurrus’. Our research into the Aerocene project and launch informed our creative development immensely.

During our 2-hour launch the membrane lifted approximately 3m off the ground. There were quite strong winds so we decided to keep it only part inflated and close to the ground so we could study it’s movement and how it ‘breathed’ in relation to the heating of the air inside the membrane as well as it’s interaction with the air/wind.

The core of our research within the ‘Susurrus’ project is to encourage environmental awareness through our unique performance language that includes a highly sensitised movement aesthetic, personal anecdotes, sound vibrations and sustainable design. All elements will intermingle in the final performance to create a sensual journey that is alternately humorous, tragic, moving and provocative encouraging audiences to sense their embeddedness within the biosphere.

The name for our creation,’Susurrus’ means a rustle, whisper or murmur. In particular we have focused on the rustle of a stream, murmur of air floating and the undertone/vibration within all living and non-living entities. During the performance a susurrus can also be experienced as a whisper of stories collected by the performer/creators (Renae Shadler and Maria Nurmela) while walking backwards through the various locations they have traveled while creating the work, and in particular along, or ‘entlang’ meaning ‘by the side of’, a stream. During ‘Susurrus’ the performers recreate these landscapes, noticing and engaging with the scenery, inhabitants, our social context and environment with a surreal-edge and contagious pleasure in the unknown.
More information HERE2.

Below is an interview with Renae Shadler and Maria Nurmela

During our creative process (started in May 2016) we encountered Tomás Saraceno and his works. We were especially taken by Aerocene project. Tomás’s idea of Aerocene as a starting of a new era after anthropocene; Aerocene Foundation as a new community, conscious of ecology and humanity; but as well Aerocene as a ethereal and aerial, soulful, moving/dancing sculpture inspired us immensely. The creative team related physically and emotionally to many of the writings within the Aerocene publications. Samuel Herzt wrote “The body must be viewed as a porous entity—as flexible as any environment in which it can exist, and pre-supposing intimate, consistent, and inextricable exchanges between human and environment” [“Swift Wind: Hearing Environmental Affect”, Aerocene Exhibition Road Publication, page 130].

These ideas resonated strongly with our practice of embodied explorations and choreographic ideas.

“I bound Aerocene with its air-like and membranous quality strongly to my contemporary dance practice, and to our values and wishes of exploring humane embodiment and its potentials”
(Maria Nurmela, co-creator/performer, Hellerau 2018)

Aerocene prompted us to ask,

  • how do we collaborate with the air in performance? (…caressing, noticing, being moved by it…)
  • Could we creatively reimagine the eternal destiny of a human-being that is bound to the earth with its gravitational pull?
  • How could sustainable and ecological matters be embedded in performance art and within the theatre?

Aerocene had a strong influence on the aesthetics of ‘Susurrus’, “Engaging with the Aerocene project was for me an interesting investigation, how it would be possible to create anything similar on stage to behave like the Aerocene; which needs sun and wind; and which moves and behaves so beautifully. I have chosen my design material (plastic) because it reminds me of the lightness of the membrane. I’m also going to try to do a flying object on stage using a fan and infrared light. So for me the experiment with Aerocene has already given a lot.“
(Kalle Ropponen, lighting designer, Hellerau 2018)

To experience Aerocene´s pure movement through wind – lightness but in the same time the massive power – held a strong poetic value for us. It brought a new ethereal and transcendent quality to the sensitive and surreal world that we aim to transmit. Like the Aerocene, ‘Susurrus’ is facilitating a performative experience where the audience and performers share a dream-like state of being part of and within their surroundings: “A space as breathing fragile porous organism and room filled with bodies in tense relation, with strange and alluring instruments, with breathless speeds of thought, with friends, family and kin.” [Aerocene Exhibition Road Publication].

We would like to thank the Aerocene Foundation for loaning us the Explorer Kit and look forward to continuing a dialogue with the Aerocene community.

‘Susurrus’ Creative Team – Concept, Choreography & Performance: Renae Shadler ,
Maria Nurmela. Light design / Set design: Kalle Ropponen, Sound design: Korhan Erel