Chorus of Chimeras - a Triadic Fiction after Oskar Schlemmer and other-than-humans.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll addressed the question of where the organism ends. His thesis, which was also taken up at the historic Bauhaus, was that no organism shall be understood as a closed body, but as a field or a network of objects and fellow creatures in whose context this organism exists. 

Oskar Schlemmer also referred to Uexküll's ideas in his stage workshop. In the "Bauhaus Dances" - for example in "Material Dances” - he tested with the students how a kind of symbiotic, interactive spatial structure can be developed from human bodies and non-human objects.

In the course "Chorus of Chimeras," this practice-oriented perspective will be taken up and - inspired in particular by the ideas of Donna Haraway, Brian Massumi and Michael Marder on possible interspecies relationships - expanded in the direction of a speculative and experimental search for the ways to build affinities with other-than-human creatures. As a result of this search, fictional hybrid beings are developed as human-animal-plants chimeras, whose speculative-possible habitats are then investigated performatively. In the process, a chorus of fictional chimeras finally emerges in playful experimentation with the possibilities of movement, but also with the acoustic potentials of human bodies and other-than-humans. 

Schlemmer's search for performative forms that can allow human metamorphosis and can open human beings towards imaginations of otherness and strangeness is reflected in the “Chorus of Masks” or “Society of Masks”, which premiered at the Bauhaus Stage in Dessau in 1927. In the title of his piece, Schlemmer brings forth and highlights the notion of “chorus” that typically defines non-principal personages of a theater play. When seen in the context of the contemporary environmental crisis, this gesture reminds us of the necessity to challenge the anthropocentrism of narratives about life and pay a closer attention to the doings of the other-than-human beings. We will further develop Schlemmer’s technique of mask play and think of the theatrical mask as “inter-face”. When thought in this way, the main function of the mask is no longer to hide the identity of its bearer. Quite on the contrary, since the mask occupies a space between us and the world, it can be compared to an artificial organ with the help of which an organism inter-acts with environments. 

 The “Chorus of Chimeras" will thus test a further reflection and reinterpretation of the experimental perspective of the "Triadic Ballet", the premiere of which will be celebrated for the 100th time in 2022.

Mikhail Lylov
Torsten Blume
Matthias Lipeck