The Puppet ShowJanuary 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?
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.
Publication: A fully-illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition with essays by the curators and contributing authors: John Thomas Bell, Director, Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut; Terence Gower, artist and exhibition designer; Jena Osman, Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Temple University; John Pemberton, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University; Jane Taylor, Skye Chair of Dramatic Art, Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand; Michael Taylor, Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Allen Weiss, Associate Teacher, Performance Studies and Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. There will be an annotated checklist of the works in the exhibition, and a picture record of the contents of “Puppet Storage.” The installation will also be documented and the catalog with be printed after the exhibition opens. $35
Travel Dates: This exhibition premiers at ICA (January 18 - March 30, 2008) and travels to the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (May 24 - August 9, 2008); The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii (September 5 – November 23, 2008); the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (January 17 – April 12, 2009) and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington (May 16 – September 13, 2009).
Installation views at ICA. Photos by Aaron Igler. > click to enlarge
Also SeeThe Puppet Show Community Calendar
Related events around the city.
Clips from popular culture that relate to "The Puppet Show" on YouTube
Selections made by Manya Scheps.
ICA Programs in conjunction with "The Puppet Show"
Backstage at The Puppet Show
Whenever Wednesday: January 30, 7pm
Lecture: Kiki Smith
Whenever Wednesday: January 23, 5pm
“Basically, art is just a way to think,” says artist Kiki Smith. “It’s like standing in the wild and letting it pull you in whatever direction it wants to go.” Listen in as one of the most influential artists of her generation speaks about her work. Presented by the Penn Humanities Forum. Pre-registration required at www.phf.upenn.edu or 215.573.8280.
Performance: Doug and Mike's Adult Entertainment
Whenever Wednesday: February 6, 6pm
Back after ten years, Doug & Mike's Adult Entertainment comes to
Film: The Music of Regret
Tuesday, March 4, 7pm
Artist Laurie Simmons introduces The Music of Regret, a mini-musical in three acts. The film is inspired by distinct periods in Simmons' work: vintage hand puppets, ventriloquist dummies and walking objects that enact tales of ambition, disappointment, love, loss and regret. Simmons' puppets come to life in miniature domestic scenes, incorporating musicians, professional puppeteers, Alvin Ailey dancers, cinematographer Ed Lachman and actress Meryl Streep. A Spiegel Fund event.
Thursday, March 6, 6pm
In conjunction with “The Puppet Show,” talk20 takes on the theme of manipulation. talk20 begins with a series of short presentations of 20 slides each, selected and narrated by a hybrid roster of students, educators and professionals working across fields of art, architecture and landscape. For more information visit www.talk20.org.
Puppets in Performance: Cardboard, Shadows, Sheets, Strings and Suitcases
Whenever Wednesday: March 19, 7pm
Curated by Beth Nixon of Ramshackle Enterprises, this event showcases a wide variety of styles and techniques employed by local and national puppeteers. Performances range from Erik Ruin's stunning shadows, to the fanciful found object ensembles of Fence Kitchen, from Shoddy Puppet Company's cardboard capers to Clare Dolan's painted contestorias.
Lecture: Anne Chu
Whenever Wednesday: March 26, 7pm
Anne Chu is described by The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as "one of the best figurative sculptors around." Listen as Chu discusses her artistic practice including her works Charming Girl and Landscape Marionette II included in "The Puppet Show." A Spiegel Fund event.
View the work of participating artist William Kentridge in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's current exhibition "Notations/William Kentridge: Tapestries" on view through April 6th.
The Emily and Jerry Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts has been created to support an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to education that will enhance collaboration at the
Images, top to bottom: Dennis Oppenheim,Theme for a Major Hit, 1974. Soundtrack lyrics: "It ain't what you make, it's what makes you do it." Recorded at Angel Sound, New York in 1974 with: Jim Ballard, vocals; Roger Welch, drums; Bill Beckley, guitar/vocals; Christa Maiwald, vocals; Diego Cortez, electric organ; Connie Beckley, vocals; Dennis Oppenheim, lyrics. Motor driven marionette, wood, cloth, felt, soundtrack, tape player, external speakers. Room installation. Photo: Ace Contemporary,