Music by Diana Syrse (second part of the diptych Connected Identities)
Text by Aleksi Barrière

World premiere on April 18th, 2021, at the Théâtre Claude Lévi-Strauss (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris) with La Chambre aux échos and Secession Orchestra.

Voice: Diana Syrse / Musical Direction: Clément Mao-Takacs /
Stage Direction, Lighting & Video: Aleksi Barrière

1. Summer / Cambrian Explosion (instrumental movement)

 “Although the origin of the eukaryotic cell has long been recognized as the single most profound change in cellular organization during the evolution of life on Earth, this transition remains poorly understood.” (David Baum, evolutionary biologist)

Until 1,5 billion years ago, life reproduced by cellular division only. A unicellular organism –the only kind available– would divide into another similar cell, carrying out its DNA unchanged, and only slow and sparse mutations would allow evolution. Energy required to sustain life was rare too, and bacteria had to rely on the fermentation of their decaying dead peers to produce it, until some evolved to support photosynthesis, and became able to convert the energy carried by sunlight into chemical energy –releasing as waste incredible amounts of oxygen that went on to fill our Earth’s atmosphere. This is called the Great Oxidation Event, and it created the conditions for the diversification of life forms beyond the depths of the oceans.

But then some bacteria evolved into something even more radical, cells with a nucleus, that allowed them to store and manage their genome in new ways –‘eukaryotic cells’ that could form tissues, combine into multicellular organisms. And, although some eukaryotic organisms continued to reproduce through division, some acquired the ability to mix their genetic material with other organisms to create entirely new individuals. Rather than replicate their own DNA internally, constrict and split into two cells, like bacteria, they would go on a hunt for a mate, someone different, seek out the Alterity without which they were incomplete. Nothing would be “the same” again after that, literally: life became more than interaction with one’s environment, it grew into a perpetual quest, constant exploration, change, adaptation. Such was the invention of sex, and the beginning of the era of the Eukaryotes. Messy, chaotic, profuse, wasteful creatures, also ingenious and outwardly splendid, just the opposite of the elegant density and efficiency of bacteria, a life form to which it seemed that nothing needed to be added, in its solitary perfection.

And oh, how we reproduced once we could! We were intoxicated with the possibility to EX-IST, etymologically “stand out of ourselves”, unfold, communicate, mingle, transform. Sex led to the so-called Cambrian Explosion, during which, within a couple dozen million of years, after over THREE BILLION years of only life forms that would have been barely visible to the human eye, the Earth was filled with plants and animals, the wild diversity of life as we know it today, millions of different shapes and forms and sizes and colors. Fabulous flowers, the peacock’s train, scents and songs, all expressions of that primal extroversion. Hard-wired into all Eukaryotes, from an evolutionary standpoint, as the urge to reproduce, sex became much more than that in complex beings, and often dissociates from it entirely into pure pleasure. It fills all creatures as a force of creativity, of boldness, of sophisticated emotional development, and of bonding.

2. Spring / From A Hundred Flowers Open (a tree speaks)

In the spring I dance and I gorge
And I shake the rain off my leaves

Breathe me in I am all over you
Tears of pleasure
I smell like I would if I burned

My name, my name is abundance
Me give and me take
Grasp and spit and clutch and hurl
Very man and very woman
From a hundred flowers open

I am all veins and I shake and I creak
My branches moa– branches moaning with the wind
Slowly we all sway slowly as if
Someone were listening

We are one and we swallow
The sun the sun the sun

Soon plump with sweet fruit
And full already
Of the whispers of insects and birds / like lustful ideas / in someone’s head

3. Autumn / The Throbbing Velvet-Maybe (a deer speaks)

Red ripe forest and the earth like a river was here
I run after my doe her scent in every shadow
(Mushrooms and lichen make silent love)

This is a hunt for more than meat
As we all follow and She plays the ancient game
Of the throbbing velvet-maybe and she is so fast

Madly I scratch the bark of trees
The world is my cage this week
And my kingdom My head full of blood

The sun goes down in a cloud of flies
Right in the light she calls me lets me closer / Oh
The privilege of warmth

How I have battled and will battle
For the bruises we share
Never before did I have a home

To have and to feel is new 
Instant Importance Everything

I want to know her like the forest
Days and days of treating her like a tree

4. Winter / The Art of Being Overwhelmed (a woman speaks)

I hold your hands and your hands unfold me
The air is cold I followed you into the sleepy forest

Your weight on me shatters the solitude immense
I hear your voice like never before
Please closer

I look at the winter sky and I feel you
This is grow-oh-th

I remember now the art of being overwhelmed
I close my eyes and we are green in the sea
A wave might as well take us back
This is the primitive life of the ocean

We exude and we exist
The hunt is on we are out of breath
All at once we are trees flowers insects deer we are quarry we prey
For us there are no seasons we tremble in perpetual spring
Like animals of the tropics selfish cats of the wild

Round and round we roll on the ground Fill me I will fill you
Us fruit to each other until we m-melt me in your mouth you in mine-A-iN


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