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Puddles the Pelican and The Pregnant Oyster: Songs of Cranky Hope and Solidarity

Under the canopy of Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt, a broken, scrappy bird of a cabaret singer named Puddles the Pelican made her museum debut. With the arching concrete roof of HKW, known to old Berliners as the ‘schwangere Auster’ (‘the pregnant oyster’), lit up with the colours of the rainbow flag, it was a queer Birth-of-Venus update for the 21 century, as Puddles delivered elegaic torch songs for an increasingly scorched earth.

A survivor of the Deep Horizon Oil Spill, Puddles lives on a cruise ship at the end of time, where she relates her stories of love and loss to the ship’s passengers, as they sail towards eternity on a sea that is no longer blue but a dark, rusted orange. The result is a politically charged form of queer science fiction, with Puddles providing a means of seeing through the deeply complicated now. Flailing fantastically, and choking on residues of the tar that coats her lungs, Puddles quacks: “Once a glorious bird, now covered in oil. Which one of you bitches has a match?”

The pre-recorded video performance was livestreamed as the closing event of the Diversity Affects online conference being hosted by HKW, which explores the vital issue of diversity in the context of museums, examining processes of institutional diversification and their social and personal impacts.

Concept and Performance: Puddles The Pelican - Production Magic and Collaborator: Darcey Bennett - Back-Up Singers: Valerie Renay, Harald Stojan - Piano: Quentin Tolimieri - Percussion: Liliana Zieniawa - Synths, Sound Engineering: Philipp Kullen - Texts: Allison Wiltshire, Jeremy Wade
 - Dramaturgy: Maika Knoblich
 - Artistic Mentor: Katerina Kokkinos-Kennedy
 - Lights: Andreas Harder, Emma Juliard, Ilia Harder, Jonathán Harder - Film: Christopher Hewitt, Cosmo Panama - Editing: Christopher Hewitt
 - Costume: Josa Marx (dress), Claudia Hill + Kahori Furukawa (Robe) - Make Up: Ra Nikolaidis
 - Wig: Benjamin Kiss - Rehearsal Direction: Michael Rolnick - Technical Support: Jan “Zimbo” Zimmermann

Special Thanks to the incredible Ezra Green for the contribution of his poetry.

Special thanks to Daniel Neugebauer and the entire HKW team for their support.

Puddles first appeared as part of “The Clearing”, a coproduction by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds
Puddles is grateful for the past support of Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Württembergische Kunstverein Stuttgart.


"Puddles is a master of this ancient survival tactic and tells us the stories that have saved her life. Her stories, poetry, and songs will make you giggle, bring you to the point of melt down, or even have you collapse in tears, and forget your way home."

Evgeny Borisenko, Tanzschreiber