Every house has a door

Wednesday 24 August, 18:00–19:30
Sibelius Museum

Carnival of the Animals: Fossils

Lin Hixson (director), Matthew Goulish (dramaturg and performer), Essi Kausalainen (costumes and textiles), Ahti Leppänen (performer), Julia Rima (clarinetist), Villa Ruscica (performer), Bryan Saner (performer), Sarah Skaggs (producer)

Engaging the conference theme Wind, Every house has a door and Essi Kausalainen present Fossils, a chapter of the project Carnival of the Animals, which takes performance as a form of transit from science to dream and back again. Fossils considers resurrection, joining three sources: first, the verses of the prophet Ezekiel in the Valley of the Dry Bones, when dead bones rise up out of the sand and rejoin into living entities—a rattling of the bones came together, bone to its bone. Yet they lack life until God infuses them with breath, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live.” Second we combine the inventive formalities of Saint-Saëns’s Fossils movement, including a central Danse macabre/dancing skeleton theme for xylophone, encircled by familiar musical quotations (fossilized classics) such as the nursery rhyme melody Twinkle Twinkle Little Star inverted, or played upside-down. Third we include the concerns of our Carnival series with extinct or endangered species, and the sobering prospect of DNA cloning undoing the brute fact of extinction. In this triangulation, what form of resurrection, what winds of reversal, might performance actualize?

Lin Hixson, director, and Matthew Goulish, dramaturg, formed Every house has a door in Chicago in 2008 to convene diverse, inter-generational project-specific teams of specialists, including emerging as well as internationally recognized artists. Drawn to historically or critically neglected subjects, Every house creates performance works and performance-related projects in many media. Helsinki-based artist and performer Essi Kausalainen first collaborated with Every house with the 2018 performance Scarecrow. Their performance project Carnival of the Animals, overseen by producer Sarah Skaggs, devises a response to each of the 14 movements of the 1886 musical suite for children of the same title by French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns, engaging the titles in sequence and approaching them with endangered or extinct species in mind. This chapter, Fossils, features long-time Chicago-based performer and collaborator Bryan Saner, Helsinki-based youth performers Ahti Leppänen and Villa Ruscica who appeared in Scarecrow in 2018, and Helsinki-based musician Julia Rima.

Photo of Bryan Saner performing the piece Aquarium
Aquarium. Bryan Saner (Photo: Yoni Goldstein & Hadley Austin)
Photo of Ahti Leppänen and Villa Ruscica performing the piece Stream
Stream. Ahti Leppänen & Villa Ruscica (Photo: Laura Cemin)