Death Kills the Emperor – a Performance for Audio and Text

In an Inuit tale as told in Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s Women Who Run With the Wolves, the titular Skeleton Woman gets caught in the hook of a fisherman. To his horror, her bones entangled in his net, she chases him home and all the way into his bed. For me, the moment when she drinks the tears he cries in his sleep epitomizes post-doom – once we become intimate with our fear of death we are open to change.

Xenia Taniko / Berlin, Germany — Dez 15, 2020

During Covid-19, the dance and performance fields face a sort of death in that our usual ways of being together in our bodies are no longer possible. These forms (dance classes, performances) were never accessible to begin with, so here death holds the potential for new beginnings. For this web residency, I will create a sonic piece that blends audio description of a dance taking place without and within the body, guided visualization, ASMR and vocal instrumentation. In Tarot, surrender to change is symbolized by the Death card – the teacher card of The Emperor, who I often think wants to kill Death. Departing from the mythologies of Skeleton Womxn & the Death card, this work brings a body into being through the use of sound. As a second layer, I will translate my audio performance into a poetic text, which will functionally transcribe the words while describing the textures and emotional expression of sound and voice, drawing inspiration from deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim’s work on translating sound into forms of writing, drawing, and ASL.


Xenia Taniko is an artist, performer, and choreographer based in Berlin. Their practice spans performance, music, and participatory formats, exploring the potential of affect and emotion as a motor for creating new forms of knowledge and embodiment. Their solo and collaborative work has been presented in theatres, galleries, and festivals across Berlin, Europe, and the US. Taniko also works as Audio-Describer of performances for blind and low vision audiences and facilitates Online Community Yoga Classes.

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