30.09.2021

Being Salmon, Being Human

The acclaimed storytelling and yoik performance “Being Salmon, Being Human” is inspired by Dr. Martin Lee Mueller’s award-winning book by the same name. The performance takes us on a journey through the extraordinary lives of wild salmon – sentient beings who are born in rivers, traverse the oceans, and return towards the end of their lives to their birth rivers to spawn and gift forward more life.

The performance explores what becomes of this awe-inspiring creature and her journey in the face of an expansive, profit-driven feedlot industry. Mueller appears on stage alongside renowned circumpolar sound poet Torgeir Vassvik and folklorist and storyteller Tiril Bryn. The storytelling unfolds alongside Vassvik’s evocative, haunting soundscape.

Together we take a deep-dive into the pancultural encounter between humans and their wild and domesticated animal companions, into stories told since time immemorial, practical knowledge passed on through the generations, and wisdom carried into our time through ancient music. We encounter some of the warriors who have recently stood up in defence of traditional fishing rights and territories. And we encounter her, the sentient being.

Born with a fierce determination to tune in to the speech of all things – to rain shower, lunar cycle, earth’s magnetism, algae bloom, or blue whale’s thousand-mile chant – she learns, as she matures, to think like the ocean. She becomes the ocean thinking itself within her. What is it like to be her? What is it like to be her feedlot cousin, whose life cycle is determined by the demands of a global capital market? How do we grasp that modern story of exploitation? And what clues do we find both in the wisdom of old and in contemporary science to stand up against the suffering of these present days, to unweave dysfunctional stories, and to re-story the ancient human-Earth relationship?