Associate 2022-23

Deke Weaver

Art + Design

CETACEAN (The Whale) 

Weaver imageA three-year project, CETACEAN (The Whale) will culminate in a public performance built around a full-scale blue whale marionette suspended and "swimming" through the air of the University of Illinois Stock Pavilion. The 100-foot-long creature will be built by students with recycled plastic—a haunting, crowd-sourced ghost whale. The work will feature performers in deep-sea diving costumes, large-scale video projection, music, and the story of 1881's Pioneer Inland Whaling Association that toured a rotting whale carcass across the Midwest on the flatbed of a train. In addition to providing a cathartic communal moment, CETACEAN will serve as an educational platform for ideas about ecological systems, climate change, and resilience, while embodying collaborative processes, sustainability, and interdisciplinary storytelling.  

CETACEAN will be the sixth event from The Unreliable Bestiary—a life-long venture presenting a performance for every letter of the alphabet, each letter representing an endangered animal or habitat. The ambitious gesture of creating 26 individual, full-length pieces is presenting a tiny sliver of our current catastrophic loss of habitat and biodiversity. Crafted from the many-faceted stories—anecdotal, scientific, historical, mythic, fictitious, environmental, economic—that surround each of these vulnerable creatures, these multidisciplinary performances are presented in settings that reflect the human relationship to the particular animal, from intimate venues such as living rooms or the corn-cribs of barns to larger stages: forests, prairies, or the length of the Mississippi River.