In the spring of 2015, Oleg Soulimenko and the video artist Anna Jermolaeva travelled to Lake Baikal to be introduced into Shamanistic rituals by three shamans. In MEET THE SHAMAN Oleg Soulimenko performs rituals from the borders of Russia without irony or folklorism, connecting the Western, urban everyday to trance and ecstasy.

Photo by Andreas Hirsch
© Andreas Hirsch

Unperturbed by Soviet-era communism, many inhabitants of Buryatia have retained their shamanistic spirituality. The popular return to religious traditions and values has meant that shamanistic seminars in Buryatia are enjoying large audiences. The participants are taught techniques to achieve a higher state of consciousness, which allows them to enter and interact with a spiritual world. This mysticism is part of Siberian everyday life and is integrated pragmatically.
Soulimenko uses the experience he made during his trip as point of departure and inspiration to playfully extend and vary these rituals, transferring them in a theatrical context. When does an action become a ritual, and what do rituals mean today? On stage, he uses everyday objects, appeases spirits with vodka and biscuits, prays, erects totem poles, builds masks, disappears into plastic bags, takes the audience on a journey and ecstatically transforms himself into the Other.
Avoiding a folklorist approach, Oleg Soulimenko explores a spiritual situation and surrenders himself on stage to the rituals that he creates. Many times during the performance, the boundaries between irony and meaningfulness, between ritual and staging are very fine. This in turn challenges the audience to decide how to interpret each moment, what it is seeing, hearing and experiencing. How much distance and irony is necessary, how much can we leave behind? What do we want, what do we ask for, what is missing? And how much are we prepared to give?
Soulimenko, together with the musician dieb13 and his hypnotic sound, uses intentional naivety and passionate and unerring seriousness to enable a new ritual experience.

Russian & English with subtitles
German Premiere

24/11, 8 PM (Berlin, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz)
25/11, 8 PM (Berlin, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz)

Concept, artistic dircetor and performance Oleg Soulimenko
Video Anna Jermolaewa
Music dieb13
Theoretical input Elisabeth von Samsonow
Special guest Lisa Stuckey
Stage and costume design Lena Winkler-Hermaden, Oleg Soulimenko
Text consultant Rosemarie Poiarkov
Costume consultant Anke Philipp
Light Design Sabine Wiesenbauer
Production management Andreas Fleck
Production assistant Kaie Olmre
Assistant Jasmin Hoffer


A Co-production by Oleg Soulimenko/Vienna Magic and brut Wien.
With friendly support by Department of Cultural Affairs of the City Vienna and Arts Division of the Federal Chancellery Austria.