big puppet show - quiet ventriloquism

January 18 - March 30, 2008 The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is pleased to present “The Puppet Show,” a group exhibition that looks at the imagery of puppets in contemporary art. International in scope, “The Puppet Show” brings together 29 artists and several generations, as reflected by works that range from a 1974 installation by Dennis Oppenheim to a new animation by the Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg. The exhibition concentrates on sculpture, video and photography. Some of the works involve actual puppets (marionettes, shadow puppets, hand puppets) and artists performing as puppeteers. Other images evoke topics associated with puppetry (manipulation, miniaturization, agency, control). Collectively these works show puppets to be a provocative and relevant imagery—one that moves deep into social, political and psychological terrains.

The puppet show takes as a historic point of departure one of the first episodes of avante-garde art history: Alfred Jarry's 1896 play Ubu Roi that was conceived as a puppet show. Ubu's reign continues with the work of the South African artist William Kentridge in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. More recently, puppets have taken hold of pop consciousness by way of films, theater, computer games and animation. On a more political note, current events and national leadership raise questions of agency that cogently relate to puppets. Together with these collective points of reference, “The Puppet Show”poses a larger cultural question: why do puppets matter now?

At ICA the exhibition opens with a discrete structure dubbed “Puppet Storage,” filled with pictures, props and other source material collected from artists studios. It will feature a historic collection of puppets from the collection of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut, selected by the Institute's director, Dr. John Bell, an internationally renowned puppeteer and historian of puppet theater. The structure is designed by the artist Terence Gower, who is staging the entire installation with reference to the uncanny, theatrical displacements of scale, and the backstage world of the theater.

Initiated by Ingrid Schaffner, Senior Curator, the exhibition is co-curated with Carin Kuoni, Director, The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, New York. The curators received a planning grant for this exhibition from the Philadelphia Exhibition Initiative (PEI).

This exhibition contains adult content. Parents, caregivers and educators are strongly advised to preview exhibition before bringing children.

Participating artists include: Guy Ben-Ner, Nayland Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Maurizio Cattelan, Anne Chu, Nathalie Djurberg, Terence Gower, Dan Graham and Japanther, Handspring Puppet Company, Pierre Huyghe, Christian Jankowski, Mike Kelley, William Kentridge, Cindy Loehr, Annette Messager, Paul McCarthy, Matt Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Phillippe Parreno and Rirkrit Tiravanija, Laurie Simmons, Doug Skinner and Michael Smith, Kiki Smith, Survival Research Laboratory, Kara Walker and Charlie White.


No comments: