Rabbit Island Portfolio

Lessons from the Forest part 2, 2015. Part 2 of a 4 part radio play with video about finding and losing oneself in an ever expanding universe. Thoughts about loss of language = loss of self, the body as a strange-stranger, the Body as Universe, the self/mind as alien-child. Subtitles in German, Russian, Czech, Chinese and French. All sounds, music, images, words by Sasha Petrenko. Featuring Alex from Mac OS X text to speech function.

Lessons from the Forest part 1, 2015. In English and German. Part 1 of a four part “radio-play” with video about finding and losing oneself in an ever-expanding universe. All words, images, music by Sasha Petrenko. Featuring the voice of Idilko Frank, German voice and translation.

Compilation (part 1) of recent and ongoing work. All words, video, movement, sound and music by Sasha Petrenko. 1-(RE)TIME, 2014-duration 20 minutes. Sound for ensemble performance illustrating the geologic time scale from the Archean eon to the Anthropocene. 2-(RE)PLACE, 2014-10 minute video projection for a participatory performance about the carbon cycle and our connection to it. 3-Animal Projections, 2013-10 minute video projection for a participatory performance on developing deeper interspecies relationships.

Compilation (part 2) of recent and ongoing work. All words, video, movement and music by Sasha Petrenko. 1-A World without Nature, 2015, Excerpt of audio from 20 minute performance/lecture about a new ecology. Movement sample of rehearsals for (RE)TIME. 2-Animal Projections, 2013, excerpt. 3-Basket Experiment #1, 2014, three minute video showing one of 3 props made by the artist for performance about the water cycle.


This Basket: fragments of my mother’s wedding dress, made in the city (Prague, CZ) she was married, 2015. site specific craft. 2 x 2 x 2 inches. Mother’s wedding dress, thread.


Story-shell, 2012. Community construction. Wood, donated fabric and stories. 6 x 6 x 7 feet. Commissioned by the Headlands Center for the Arts. Participants received packages through the mail with handwritten instructions to return a piece of fabric cut according to a flexible pattern. Along with the fabric, people contributed stories of any length so that each patch that made up the canopy represented a story, illustrating how our individual stories come together to form a greater narrative, shelter and community.


PETS: Prescribed Engagement Therapy, 2014. Online pharmacy offering action oriented prescriptions inspired by eco-therapy, as opposed to pharmaceuticals for common lifestyle disorders. Visit PETS today!



Pinophyta II, 2015. Commissioned by the University of San Francisco. Wood, milk-paint, waxed linen, zip-ties. 6 x 3 x 3 feet. Inspired by the California redwood, spruce, cedar and conifers in general, Pinophyta will borrow the form and structure of a pinecone, resembling also primitive huts and shelters, calling attention to the immense ecological value of trees in our ecosystem. Pinophyta illustrates in its structure how individual cells form a larger structure and in its form is a reflection on the conifer, the tree that built the city, supports vast communities of creatures in life and in death.

For a more comprehensive portfolio please visit www.sashapetrenko.org.

Proposal for Rabbit Island Residency:

As a child I lived in Michigan, in a small town named Clio. Ponds and lakes lace through murky memories before my family turned west and never looked back. Today I know I owe a great deal to those fleeting early years, up until I was 10, when we ran fearless through fields of corn, scampered up old maples, under bridges, through forests, across fields and gravel roads, knees bleeding, damp and panting like collarless dogs. Only a fraction of a lifetime yet that time makes me who I am today.

The patterns of nature that I grew so accustomed to in my childhood are not as easy to detect out west, in California, where the snow left some time ago and the rain is threatening to abandon us when we need it most. I think back on the thunder and lightening, how the bright blue light illuminated the night and summer rains felt like sweet release from something I had yet to really know.

Our early experiences in nature reach far beyond nostalgia, memory and play, back down an evolutionary path. On Rabbit Island I hope to create a work of audio, video and or performance that explores the immediate and evolutionary role of nature on human emotion and cognitive development. My own memories of Michigan may set me on a course but I can easily imagine that changing as I find myself there, older, but again. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. And when I reach that point of not knowing, I know I’m moving in the right direction. Along the way it’s customary I lose myself, then reappear understanding more about the site, where I am and where I stand.

My process involves extensive fieldwork and research that starts immediately after I arrive at a site. In a sense my process is already a performance. A kind of choreography is established. An underlying structure, a matrix, is revealed on which things are set in motion. The work builds and divides and divides again, until the strongest threads survive the countless questions I may pose. Ultimately I let the land lead me and once I let go and just listen, and be, the work reveals itself and grows more clear, manifesting ideas in surprising ways.

In Fall 2016 my performance art collective, the New Urban Naturalists and I will be Artists in Residence at the de Young Museum in San Francisco where we will be developing a series of PSAs (Public Service Announcements, on paper, audio and video) promoting interspecies relationships in the City. Part of our project includes a learning center with a screening “tent” where visitors can gather, relax and listen to radio-plays or watch videos on subjects ranging from photosynthesis to edgeless ecologies, the origin of human language or methane emissions. The work I make on Rabbit Island will be part of this video series and provide our audience with a deeper sense of wonder that we’re even really here, and a greater understanding and appreciation for the complex natural systems that allow for life on this planet.

Link to CV