In Codes of Absence lädt uns der kolumbianische Musiker Nico Yurgaki ein, seinen Erfahrungen der Einsamkeit in der Migration und der Beziehung zu seiner Mutter Bertha Quinthero durch musikalische Improvisationen nachzuspüren. Quinthero ist die Begründerin des ersten weiblichen Salsa-Ensembles in Kolumbien. In einem Live Video-Call improvisieren Yurgaki auf der Bühne des Domizils und Quinthero in Bogota gemeinsam entlang des Konzepts der fünf Claves (rhythmische Codes) der kolumbianisch-pazifischen und karibischen Musik. Diese fünf Codes sind rhythmische Muster, die in vielen kolumbianischen Musikstücken vorkommen. Sie sind durch die jahrhundertelange Verflechtung verschiedener Musikkulturen im lateinamerikanischen, afroamerikanischen und karibischen Raum entstanden. 

Während der Live-Improvisation entsteht ein intimes Gespräch, in dem Themen wie Mutterschaft, Rebellion gegen das Patriarchat, Männlichkeit, Liebe – und das Gefühl der Abwesenheit geliebter Menschen in einer scheinbar global vernetzten Welt – diskutiert werden.

So werden die rhythmischen Muster zu einem Symbol für die Unbeständigkeit der Identität und ihre Überschreitung.



Codes of Absence takes us with musician Nico Yurgaki to trace, throughout musical improvisations, his experiences of loneliness during the migration from Colombia into the EU, and how it affected his relationship with his mother Bertha Quintero. 

Quintero is a conga player and one of the founders of the first female salsa orchestra in Colombia, Caña Brava. 

In a live video call, Yurgaki will be on stage at the Vierte Welt and Quintero in Bogotà. Together they will take us on a journey along the concept of the five claves (rhythmic codes) of Colombian-Pacific and Caribbean music. These five codes are rhythmic patterns that appear in many Colombian musical pieces. As the result of the centuries-long interweaving of different musical cultures in the Latin- Afro-American, and Caribbean regions, they will use them to guide us through intimate conversations discussing themes such as motherhood, rebellion against the patriarchy, masculinity, love – and the feeling of the absence of the loved ones in a seemingly globally connected world. Hence it turns these patterns into a symbol for the transition of identity- and its transgression.



Codes of Absence porta sul palco il musicista Nico Yurgaki e ci accompagna in una veglia personale che ha il suo punto di partenza nelle esperienze di migrazione nell’UE dalla Colombia. Queste esperienze sono state spesso dominate dal sentimento di saudade e dall’assenza dei propri cari. Così, durante lo spettacolo, invita sua madre, Bertha Quinthero, che ha fondato il primo ensemble femminile di salsa in Colombia, a improvvisare musica dal vivo con lui – utilizzando la tecnologia di una chiamata via Internet.
Durante queste improvvisazioni, emerge una conversazione intima che discute temi come la maternità, la ribellione contro il patriarcato, la mascolinità, l’amore – e la sensazione di assenza in un mondo apparentemente connesso a livello globale.

La struttura delle loro improvvisazioni musicali si basa sul concetto delle cinque Claves (tradotto in inglese come Codes) nella musica colombiana/pacifica e caraibica.
Questi cinque codici sono schemi ritmici presenti in molti brani musicali suonati in Colombia. Sono nati da centinaia di anni di intrecci tra le diverse culture musicali del mondo latino/afro/caraibico. In questo modo, questi schemi sono diventati un simbolo dell’instabilità dell’identità e della sua trasgressione.

Idea and Creation: Cistifellea Collective

Text, Original Music and Performer: Nico Yurgaki

Co-Direction, Technology: Elena Tilli

Co-Direction, Technology: Kai Tuchmann

Text, Performer: Bertha Quintero

Sound technician in Germany: Frederick Aderholz

Ton-/Videotechniker in Bogota: Johnatan Edery

Grafisches Design: Maria Taborda

Produktionsleiter: Victor Zapata

Besonderer Dank: Hector Crúz

Koproduktion: Theater Im Depot, Cistifellea Collective


Presented at:

2023.06.17 – Theater Im Depot, Dortmund (premiere)

2024.04.19 – Mahindra Humanity Center, Harvard

2024.06.13-14 – Vierte Welt, Berlin

2026.04 – La Mama, NYC


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Composer, pianist, guitarist and percussionist specialized in Jazz and Afro-Caribbean music. Creator of soundtracks for audiovisuals and performing arts.
Song writer.
Double degree in Jazz Piano from the Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá, Colombia and the Escuela Superior de Música de Catauña, Spain.

Nicolás is the co-founder of the Cistifellea Collective together with the director and stage designer Elena Tilli, where he works as a sound designer, performer, and writer. His practice of improvisation and his emphatic approach during the process offers unique possibilities.

He investigates unconventional forms of participation of the public while attending a performance and as inspiration to his process with sound. He develops specific tools for interaction and builds custom-based small-scale instruments.

Using software, and electronic sounds, together with live played instruments, Nicolas allows himself a fullscale exploration that together with his wide versatility as a musician and composer, opens up a high level of complexity that translates into a beautiful, inspiring, and sometimes provocative experience for the public.

Nicolas is also a singer-songwriter, leader, and manager of the independent musical project Yurgaki since 2005.

Composer and co-producer of the projects Candombe Tierra, Sones de Marimba, Chonta Dura, in Barcelona.
His work has been presented internationally in countries such as Ecuador, United States, France, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Ecuador, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Colombia and Spain.
Nicolás also works as an educator for children, youth and adults. He promotes Afro-Caribbean music around the world through concerts and workshops where he spreads various musical genres, disseminating traditional music and transforming it through his own compositions.

Find out more at



Elena is a multidisciplinary artist.

She insists on the body as the epicenter of scenic language while researching, studying, developing post-dramatic approaches to technological constructions she develops, engineers and builds.

Elena is the co-founder of the Cistifellea Collective together with the musician Nicolas Cristancho, in which she directs, and builds scenery, machines, and media design. She is also a video designer in the theater and her collaborations have been seen at The Kitchen Theater in New York, at the Barichstaadt Opera in Munich, and in public theaters in Barcelona.

After graduating in mechanical engineering (MA), Elena completed her education at Yale School of Drama studying Technical Design and Production and Design for Theater. She completed the three years program held by Claudia Castellucci at Scuola Conia Raffaello Sanzio focused on the Theory of Scenic Representation. Since 2021 Elena is an alumni Fellow at the Akademie für Theater und Digitalität, Dortmund with which she continues to partner and develop her work.

Elena creates visual experiences combining technical and technological elements, for a variety of artistic applications, such as performance, installations and theater productions. Her practice focuses on the process and aims to develop dramaturgies that inhabit technology, always guided by the commitment to find in the collaboration a unique and essential value.

n 2023 she directs, stage and technology design Coded Rituals together with Camila Scholtbach and NIcolas Yurgaki. The performance is co-produced by Cistifellea Collective and Theater Im Depot and it opened the Festival Beyond Gravity in November 2023.
In 2022, the performance Presence of Absent was funded by the Kulturbüro of the city of Dortmund and the NRW Kultur Sekretariät as part of the project Distant Land Vol I. It was seen at Lake Studios Berlin as a work in progress and later premiered at Theater Im Depot in February 2023.
With Cistifellea she directed the performances/long theater pieces Codes of Absence (2023), Presence of Absent (2022), Don’t Make it A Play (2022), Asuntos Humanos (2021), Todo Bien Todo Tranqui (2021), El Silencio no Existe (2020).

In 2023 she was the video designer and technologist in the theater piece Nomadas, premiering at Teatro OBando, Lisbon in April.
She also assisted video designer Susanne Steinmassl as a stage live camera coordinator, content creator and film editor in Die Nibelungen Festspiele in Worms in 2023.

In September 2022 she was part of Digital Body Archive residency at Lake Studios Berlin. Here she began, together with more than 15 fellows a research focusing on the principle of “no technology before need” (as suggested by TroikaRanch) as a start, to then tailor the technology she wanted to see by creating artwork that uses/misuses tech that was available.

In September 2022 she was also part of te project Togather with the installation titled Unlearning Journey into a virtual body. The project was funded by NRW Kultur Sekretariät and premiered at Favoriten Festival 2022 – Unlearning for Possible Futures.

With Cistifellea she directed the performances/long theater pieces Codes of Absence (2023), Presence of Absent (2022), Don’t Make it A Play (2022), Asuntos Humanos (2021), Todo Bien Todo Tranqui (2021), El Silencio no Existe (2020).

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