Catharine DeLong, music thanatologist
Catharine DeLong, music thanatologist
Great Salt Lake, September 2021
case study area in major drought
photo credit: Victoria and Joe Felt
Suminagashi Paper
Suminagashi Paper
Ink-marbled paper with water from the Great Salt Lake
by artist and designer Lana Neilson
Suminagashi paper texts for Grief Shrine
Suminagashi paper texts for Grief Shrine
Paper design: Lana Neilson
Grief Shrine Installation: Anne Louise Blicher
Sharp Projects Gallery, Copenhagen
 The Bird Ladies (photo Claudia Lucacel)
The Bird Ladies (photo Claudia Lucacel)
Interactive theatre by HenBlakstad Productions with Animalske Produksjoner
(Henriette Blakstad, Guri Guri Henriksen, Anne Mali Sæther) with Silo Portem (music and sound design) and Catharine DeLong (harp)
The Bird Ladies
The Bird Ladies
Interactive theatre by HenBlakstad Productions with Animalske Produksjoner
(Henriette Blakstad, Guri Guri Henriksen, Anne Mali Sæther) with Silo Portem (music and sound design) and Catharine DeLong (harp)
Grief Shrine installation, Anne Louise Blicher
Grief Shrine installation, Anne Louise Blicher
Forms suggesting the vanishing Great Salt Lake (US) and flooding-endangered Kalveboderne (Denmark)
Sharp Projects gallery, Copenhagen
Death Café for the World As We Know It
Death Café for the World As We Know It
LiteraturHaus, Copenhagen
Resonant Bodies tree instrument, Julia Adzuki
Resonant Bodies tree instrument, Julia Adzuki
Lost Species Walk, Assistens Kirkegård, Copenhagen
Lost Species Walk, Assistens Kirkegård, Copenhagen
with Ash Sanders and Julia Adzuki

This two-year laboratory extends hospice music practice

to an arts assembly attending to ecological loss

to make room for new imaginaries in a warming world.

Our Concept

In extending the practice of music thanatology, or music for the dying, to climate grief, through visual art, theatre, sound, digital media, and public participation, this project creates a living framework using ecological rhythms as a tool (music responding to crisis points in the environment, for example, or in a less literal adaptation, artworks that change as they incorporate written or spoken griefs from participants). The goal is not to remain in a state of mourning but to create a pause in habitual, carbon-costly mindsets to allow for new imaginaries to emerge.

Research and Embodiment

Our project draws on ecology, phenomenology, and practices of lament. Hands-on work with water, ink, shadows, steel, wood, strings, theatre, voice, sound recordings, textiles, ceramic, words, paper, and interactions with human and nonhuman agents creates a surprising community of companionship and imagination. Events and artworks include a Lost Species Walk, Death Café for the World As We Know It, Grief Shrine installation, and The Bird Ladies interactive theatre performance with shadow and sound art. 

Project Publication

Heidi Hart, Climate Thanatology

Really Simple Syndication Press, 2022

Climate Thanatology



Julia Adzuki

visual & performance artist (Sweden)

Catharine DeLong

music thanatologist (US)

Ash Sanders

climate writer & activist (US)

Silo Portem

music & sound design (UK)

HenBlakstad Productions & Animalske Produksjoner (Norway) 

Henriette Blakstad, Anne Mali Sæther, Guri Guri Henriksen

Anne Louise Blicher

visual artist (Denmark)

Henriette Thune

medical humanities researcher (Norway)

Lana Neilson

visual artist & designer (US)

Water collection for Suminagashi paper


The Bird Ladies

HenBlakstad Productions in co-production with Animalske Productions from Norway have produced “The Bird Ladies”, an interactive shadow installation placed in a dehumanised dystopian environment.

Sound design by experimental music duo silo portem in collaboration with musician Catharine DeLong on the harp, and shadows created by visual artist Guri Guri Henriksen highlight the atmosphere in this post-apocalyptic landscape


In this landscape two ladies are captured, as if they exist in a time loop, where they are exposed to a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change of body form. A habitat that shapes and transforms them into creatures similar to birds, The Bird Ladies. From loud speakers, a voice rapidly lists a variety of animals, and talks about the risks of disappearance. “Is there something we human beings have misunderstood?” the voice asks. The Bird Ladies invite the audience to join them in a ritual, as witnesses, in the hope of change, to break free from this cycle of repetition.




Henriette Blakstad:                  Concept, performer, production manager, costumes (NO)

Anne Mali Sæther:                    Concept, dramaturgy, performer, text (NO)

Guri Guri Henriksen:                Concept, visual artist (NO)

silo portem:                               (UK) music, featuring Julia Adzuki’s resonant tree instrument (Sweden)

Catharine DeLong:                    Musician- harp (US)

Paul Vidar Sævarang:                Light Design (The Norwegian Opera & Ballet).

Lasse Heggen Raa:                    Technician on metal work installation (NO)

Minali Conrad/Espen Sæther:  Sound technician (NO)



Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond (NO)

Danse og teatersentrum (NO)

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NO)

Fond for Utøvende Kunstnere (NO)

SixtyEight Art Institute, Copenhagen (DK)

Curator Heidi Hart Ph.D.  Art and Humanities Research Fellow SixtyEight Art Institute (US)

Studium Actoris, Fredrikstad (NO)

Nesoddparken Kunst- og kulturnæringssenter (NO)



Merete Morken Andersen for studio space (NO).

Studium Actoris- a laboratory for the actor's physical expression. For support and guest shows (NO).

Digerud Grendestue for studio space (NO).




Animalske & HenBlakstad Productions and Guri Guri Henriksen with the Interactive Shadow Installation, “The Bird Ladies”. For seven years Anne Mali Sæther (director), Guri Guri Henriksen (paper cuts), and Henriette Blakstad (actor) has involved themselves by working with paper, lights, sound, text and movement, in spaces covered in total darkness with unlimited abilities to discover through light and shadows. A concept where themes connected to nature, loss, inadequacy, grief, exquisite beauty, and everlasting research in direction of theatre, installation, concepts, dance and composition which has resulted in several interactive performances across Norway. Separately they have had a curriculum where visual art and performative work has taken them to France, China, Singapore, UK, Iran, India, Scandinavia, Russia and so on…

What connects them is their deep interest in shadow work and the reality of climate change. The work of shadows; to almost lose a sense, the sight in the dark room, and to sharpen the focus through light sources, and the touch. The revelation of gravity abolition, the changes of surfaces and size, is a great catalyst for a theme that moves towards such an all-consuming, all-encompassing whole as climate change does.

In this production they work with two musicians to make a voice over connected to the Climate Thanatology concept, sound designer Silo Portem, multimedia-experimental musicians, and Catharine DeLong harpist who works with music-thanatology at hospitals in Utah and New York, where she brings intimacy and comfort to end-of-life patients.