Temple du présent: Solo for an octopus, 2021

HD video and sound
French and English with English closed captions
22:08 mins. Recording of the performance by Stefan Kaegi (Rimini Protokoll) in collaboration with Judith Zagury and Nathalie Küttel (ShanjuLab); production: Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, ShanjuLab Gimel, République Éphémère, Théâtre Saint-Gervais; in coproduction with Berliner Festspiele Berlin, Rimini Apparat GbR, Centre Pompidou Paris. Recording made by Bruno Deville and Bastien Genoux on 7 January 2021 in Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne.

Temple du présent: Solo for an octopus is the recording of a theatre project that brings together humans and an octopus to value and explore their vastly different cognitive realities. Over a three-year period the team worked with experts in natural sciences, humanities, animal welfare and ethics, and theatre practitioners, to rescue an octopus from a fish market in France and respectfully stage live public performances with the creature. Octopuses have an incredible nervous system that is mostly dispersed throughout their tentacles, which enables them to adapt to changing environments and evade human attempts to control them. Knowing octopuses have a cunning and improvisational nature, the human collaborators use a range of methods to engage with their rescued animal: trailing their hands in the water, using light and sound, and placing a glass vase in the tank. At times the octopus’s tentacles grasp and explore these human interventions, while at other times it seems less interested. Throughout, an ambient soundtrack is interspersed with voices that speculate on the human desire to understand the minds of animals whose perception appears so alien to our own. 

Sound description: Throughout the video, tranquil synthesised music plays softly in the background, at times with digital distortion, whale song and intermittent spoken word.