Finnish artist, Maria Nurmela participated in a week-long collaborative research residency at the Drill Hall with collaborators Kalle Ropponen (FIN) and Renae Shadler (AUS/GER). During their time in the space, the artists took forward their project ‘Susurrus’ – a new performance installation that draws a parallel between a human midlife crisis and the current ecological crisis. The project brings together contemporary dance, original spoken text, and immersive design to embrace audiences in this alternately humorous, moving and provocative journey.
As well as the research residency, Maria and Renae facilitated the ‘Part of, Within’ Workshop to the public at the Drill Hall and presented a public sharing of ‘Susurrus’. Around this time in Sydney Maria also undertook research visits to Dance Massive (Melbourne) and Supercell Festival (Brisbane).
The ‘Susurrus’ project was initiated by Renae and Maria in May 2017, in collaboration with a lighting/set designer, Kalle Ropponen and sound artist, Samuel Hertz. As an international team from different artistic landscapes in Australia, Germany, USA and Finland, the group are committed to creating ecological ways to make and present performance art. ‘Susurrus’ have led events at Palais de Tokyo (FR), Ehkä -productions (FIN) and Hellerau – European Center of the Arts (DE), among others.
Maria Nurmela has been working as a freelance dance artist since 2002, collaborating with known choreographers including Theo Clinkard, Susanne Linke, Helena Franzén and Yuval Pick. Nurmela has danced with Tero Saarinen Company since 2003, plus worked as repetitor and teacher of TERO technique. In 2012–2016 she was in charge of TSC’s community outreach project Apollo tanssii.
Her own choreographic work consists of transdisciplinary collaborations and site-specific performances combining different theatrical tools, contemporary music and visual arts. Her latest co-productions include Sarastuksia (Dawnings, 2017), as part of the official Finland 100 programme, and Susurrus (2017-), initiated with Australian choreographer Renae Shadler. Susurrus was presented among others at Tomas Saraceno´s exhibition ON AIR at the Palais de Tokyo Museum in Paris in 2018.
Image credit: Renae Shadler and Maria Nurmela in ‘Susurrus’ sharing at Critical Path 2019. Photo by Wendy Yu.