Featuring work by
Puppets offer a fascinating dichotomy between the construction of the object that becomes a puppet and the careful performance of gestures that bring it to life. Puppets are rarely so lifelike that we are unaware of their constructed nature and yet they also invite us to believe in their being, their ability to become a character. Often they resemble both subjects and objects and as such allow us to understand both categories better.
When they are considered as objects, puppets are like other forms of sculpture, in that they are a three-dimensional composition of forms, usually intended to expressively resemble a person or animal. This constructed or assembled quality often does double duty by both representing physical attributes and contributing to potential performances. The performative element does not detract from our ability to examine them as objects, rather it amplifies it. They become a representation not just of a person or animal according to how the sculptor interprets their static appearance but also how they might move. They are an image of a being that acknowledges the being as a subject with personal agency and a wide variety of potential gestures.
In performance, these objects attain the illusion of subjecthood through the skillful manipulations of the puppeteer. Traditionally, puppeteers have explained this coming to life by ascribing spirits to the puppets and suggesting that in performance, the object has been inhabited, or possessed. The sequence of movements becomes a form of montage used to express the feelings and actions of the character, and the performing puppet becomes a powerful moving image, one that incorporates many of the elements of cinema in a much older form. At times a willful suspension of disbelief enables the puppet to become a character, and at other times a sort of perceptual illusion brings it to life on a phenomenological level.
This exhibit of Puppets and artworks resulting from their constructed beings, seeks to explore these themes.