The New York City-based Phantom Limb Company, founded by composer and marionette maker Erik Sanko and visual artist Jessica Grindstaff, is critically acclaimed for its reinvention of traditional theatrical forms, incorporating marionette puppetry, music, and large-scale installation in order to probe issues of contemporary life.
Since the success of their first marionette play The Fortune Teller in 2006, Sanko and Grindstaff have collaborated on numerous original theatrical works with such diverse artists as Ping Chong & Company, Ulrike Quade, Geoff Sobelle of Pig Iron and rainpan 43, and Mark Z. Danielewski.
Jessica Grindstaff is a multimedia artist. Known for her tiny Victorian taxidermied shadowboxes, wax and chalk paintings, she has most recently taken her micro-universe macro through the medium of installation and set design.
Erik Sanko is a lifelong musician, and has played with The Lounge Lizards, John Cale, Yoko Ono, They Might Be Giants and his own band, Skeleton Key. Erik also has always made puppets, first for his own amusement, then for art collectors, and now for theatrical productions.
Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s harrowing expedition to Antarctica in 1914, Phantom Limb unites puppetry, dance, film, history, and photography with contemporary music to create a stunning vision of the great arctic continent—past, present, and future. Dim light plays across a lunar terrain dotted with icebergs. Shackleton’s crew, played by half-life-size puppets, struggles to survive in this vast landscape, putting into stark relief the power of endurance and camaraderie and the price of knowledge. With sound that combines the junkyard dog aesthetic of the band Skeleton Key playing live, a score recorded by the Kronos Quartet, and glacial field recordings, 69˚S. mines the inherently bittersweet and complex nature of the Shackleton experience and what the future may hold for this fragile environment.