In the Sibylline cave near today’s Naples, the narrator of Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel The Last Man finds a collection of prophecies scribbled on scattered oak leaves. These fragments conjure the story of an epidemic that ravages the globe in the 2100’s, forever altering human history. Arguably the first sciencefiction apocalypse, The Last Man touches on themes such as solitude, new forms of intimacy, repetition, and life on the edge of an epoch.
In Shifting Theatre: Sibyl’s Mouths, members of the writing and performance group Pure Fiction—Rosa Aiello, Ellen Yeon Kim, Erika Landström, Luzie Meyer, and Mark von Schlegell—respond to the unpredictable cultural landscape of today by staging this strikingly relevant novel’s motifs in a shifting theatre of sound, installation, lecture, film and puppetry. Voices animate and prophesize; make presence out of absent figures and forces; translate from symbol to action and back.
In a time when coming together physically as a group seems near impossible; coming apart together is newly significant. Like the fragmentary prophecies of the Sibylline cave, works made specifically for the exhibition come to life at various stages, and in accordance with their own internal script and time-line. Through a careful interrogation to the where and who, their individual unfoldings seem to ask in discordant chorus: what is performance?