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Shadows, Strings and Other Things

The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets

Look Closer

Shadows, Strings and Other Things

The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets

Look Closer

Shadows, Strings and Other Things

The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets

Dates

May 16, 2019 – October 14, 2019

Over 250 puppets, old and new, from 15 countries, are illuminated in MOA’s dramatic new exhibition. These exquisite puppets—sometimes charming, sometimes a little bit scary, and always entertaining—come together and reveal our enduring fascination with storytelling.

For thousands of years, knowledge holders and storytellers around the world have engaged puppets as a means to dramatize the human experience. Puppets have been delighting, entertaining and educating audiences of all ages, letting our imaginations soar. Puppets are the precious purveyors of our epics, dreams and satires.

Enter into a theatrical world of kings and queens, demons and clowns, supernatural beings and more. Extraordinary stories and fantastical characters fill the stages, cases and multimedia installations of this enchanting exhibition. Whether animated using age-old techniques or digital technologies, puppets are manipulated by hand, and here you’ll discover more about the different forms of manipulation and animation that give them life: shadow, string, rod, hand, and stop-motion. With a focus on Asia, Europe and the Americas, the exhibition draws from MOA’s stunning international collection of puppets—the largest in Western Canada­—and reveals new acquisitions from China, Brazil, Sicily, Java, the UK and France.

Shadows, Strings and Other Things is an immersive experience that illuminates how puppetry continues to evolve and innovate in the hands of artists and performers who keep the tradition alive. From graceful Vietnamese water puppets and comical British hand puppets to the captivating stop-motion puppet animation of the award-winning Indigenous artist Amanda Strong—the full spectrum of human resilience and creativity is on display.

Curator: Dr. Nicola Levell (Associate Professor, Anthropology, UBC)

Photo credits (L-R): 1) String puppets. By unknown makers (Sinhalese). MOA Collection: Eh149, Eh147, Eh164, Eh144, Eh142. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 2) Shadow puppets. By Lu Family (Chinese). MOA Collection: 3338/8-12. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 3) String puppets. By Jorge Cerqueira (Portuguese). MOA Collection: 3105/1-2. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 4) Hand puppets. By Alison and Brian Davey (British). MOA Collection: 3350/1-12. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 5) Wayang golek (rod puppets). By unknown makers (Javanese). MOA Collection: 2872/22, 2872/21, 2872/35, 2872/19. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 6) String puppet. By unknown maker (Burmese). MOA Collection: 3307/1. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 7) Hand puppets. By unknown maker (Nahua or Totonac). MOA Collection: 3341/1-9. Photo by Alina Ilyasova.