School of Harms

An Opera on Extinction

July 2019

Klosterruine, Berlin 

by and with: Jan Durina, Tamara Antonijevic, Henrike Kohpeiß and Philipp Wüschner

Excerpt from 'Innocence of Sun' from School of Harms performance. Text by Henrike Kohpeiß. Shot by Petra Hermanova.

Uverejnil používateľ Ephemeral Harms Štvrtok 14. novembra 2019

The Minnesota Woman

The highway is being built. It will go 3000 kilometers across the country, connecting two points, one northern and the other southern, and thereby cut through hills, fields, houses, settlements, mountains, valleys, grasslands, forests, rivers, lakes.

You are going to be found because they are improving infrastructure on the piece of land where your body had rested all these years. The digger has already trenched the earth around you for a few days when the shovel grasps what used to be your left calf and lifts it to be thrown onto the pile of earth next to the digging site.

At sight of the bones in the brown, suddenly soft earth, the worker stops the machine and steps out of it. The man makes a phone call, probably asking for instructions to proceed. Other workers join the scene and look at your body parts, which by now are lying bare in the hole. They seem to be provoked but not necessarily interested in the origin of your remains.

The surface of the lake reflects the sunbeams, so it looks like its made of marble, or glass, or any other shiny, solid material. The lake is frozen. On closer inspection, one can notice  a crack in the surface of the lake. It is hard to tell from a distance how broad or long the crack actually is. Since there are no trees, animals or humans around, the measurements of the lake are inestimable.

This image functions as a spotless representation of nature. The crack is created by you.

The ice collapsed under the weight of your moving body and you fell into the void opening up beneath your feet. A second ago you were under the surface of the ice, grabbing desperately ice pieces above you with your hands. This made the crack bigger. You screamed shortly and some birds instantly flew away. You tried to use the dagger in your hand to find some traction in the ice, but none of the pieces you grasped would hold you. The cold water numbed your body and after a short while you lost consciousness. Youre only 16 and you’re female.

Now, your body is slowly settling itself at the bottom of the lake. The pendant shell necklace is floating a few centimeters above your head, before it arranges itself loosely around your neck. There will be a layer of mud and clam shells covering your body in the years to come.

These two descriptions relate to each other by the process of petrification, which turns matter of all sorts into stone. Thanks to this process, petrified bodies of animals and humans remain recognizable in the shape of fossils. Their presence on earth is prolonged by minerals infiltrating their former organic parts. Your calf used to be condensed calcium and phosphate around which flesh was arranging itself. The underwater grave, constituted of layers of sediment, compressed your body parts, as minerals from water moved between sediment particles. This sediment became rock, with your remains inside.

This is how you appear on the construction site of a major American highway 10.000 years later, much after the lake which drowned you, evaporated.