The Big Sleep

Interdisciplinary project on taxidermy

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Project description

The project by the Leipzig theatre artists Alisa Hecke and Julian Rauter highlights the motives and backgrounds of taxidermy. How do bodies function as carriers of memory? How do taxidermists present the cadavers, and what aesthetic principles apply? How is this traditional procedure capable of creating the illusion of aliveness? The project takes the artistic approach of viewing taxidermy as a cultural practice that aims to halt the processes of decay and oblivion, and in view of the imminent extinction of various species, has assumed renewed urgency. Based on interviews with taxidermists, the artists are developing five artistic formats – a performance, scenic installation, audio installation, performative installation and radio play – dedicated to this subject for presentation at several theatres, a festival and museums in Germany and Switzerland.
In the performance “The Big Sleep”, which will be staged at theatres in Leipzig, Berlin and Basel, the artist duo is creating a mise-en-scène in which the stuffed animals and performers are arranged on stage. The main question they ask is how living bodies can be aesthetically prepared, viewed and remembered. In light of the sheer mass of artefacts stored in art depositories, the scenic installation at the Kunstfest Weimar will reflect on the relevance and purpose of our collection practices. The visitors will be invited to examine taxidermic specimens in a workshop setting, listen to audio tracks, view documentary material, and experience a taxidermist at work. The audio installation „L/Imitation of Life“, which the artists are preparing for the Natural History Museum in Basel, describes the manufacturing processes used in taxidermy. The Short Piece „Le Grand Sommeil“ will be staged in the large-scale Africa diorama at the Natural History Museum in Geneva and will reflect on the relationship of humans with their environment and animals. A radio play for the Naturalienkabinett Waldenburg will present the contemporary aesthetics of taxidermy and their historical development.

Artistic directors: Alisa Hecke, Julian Rauter
Production manager: Nora Schneider
Dramaturge: Nadine Vollmer
Artists and researchers: Katharina Bill, Lydia Mäder, Cornelia Friederike Müller, Malte Scholz, Alvin Probst, Andi Willmann, Nina Maria Wyss, Jean-Marie Zumstein and others

  • Performance, „The Big Sleep“, Residenz Schauspiel Leipzig: 19/20/23/24/26/27 Jun. 2020; Theaterdiscounter Berlin: 29/30/31 Oct., 1 Nov. 2020; Roxy Biersfelden: 5/6 Nov. 2020;
  • Scenic Installation „Melancholie der Sammlung“, Kunstfest Weimar: 29/30/31 Aug. 2020;
  • Short Piece „Le Grand Sommeil“, Muséum d’histoire naturelle de la Ville de Genève: 14/15 Nov. 2020;
  • Audio Installation, L/Imitation of Life, Basel Natural History Museum: 17 Sep. – 30 Nov. 2020
  • Radio Play, Naturalienkabinett Waldenburg: December 2020


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 25 July, 2021 to 26 September, 2021: Hörstück „L/Imitation of Life“

    Naturalienkabinett Waldenburg, Waldenburg

  • 5 November, 2020 to 6 November, 2020: Performance, „The Big Sleep“

    Roxy, Biersfelden

  • 29 October, 2020 to 1 November, 2020: Performance „The Big Sleep“

    Theaterdiscounter, Berlin

  • 29 August, 2020 to 31 August, 2020: Scenic Installation „Melancholie der Sammlung“

    Kunstfest Weimar, Weimar

  • 19 June, 2020 to 27 June, 2020: Performance, „The Big Sleep“

    Residenz Schauspiel Leipzig, Leipzig