Conference: Spaces of Puppetry Exploration   

Contemporary puppetry art explores various means of puppetry communication between the material, image, movement, sound, technology, and space. New approaches and expressions alongside hybrid staging forms expand the field of contemporary puppetry practices outside the traditional idea of what a puppet theatre is. The conference aims to stimulate reflection on how these practices contribute to the reinvention of ways in which we can conceive puppetry and animation, and if a more precise question of the autonomy of the puppetry medium can help us with it. The latter was also highlighted as the central theme of the selection for this year’s Biennial by its selector. 

How to understand the autonomy of puppetry thinking and how to produce a turn from producing (stories) in the puppetry medium to the exploration and emanation of the nature of the puppetry and animation?

This sort of understanding can be observed in the animation of objects in which the objects speak as "renovated living creatures", outside of their usual function and conventional use. It inscribes itself in the audio worlds of the material, relations between body and matter, their image and movement, an entanglement of approaches and techniques, and into the art and the technological design of puppets. Principles of choreography, sound animation, object animation, spatial settings and visual installations, various puppet and other technologies present in the Biennial’s performances all alert us of the performative potential of the material, which goes beyond the human gift of revival and the insertion of meaning. It cuts into the dichotomy of conceptualising the world between the subject as the active performer of the action and meaning and the object as a dead, but potentially animated matter, as Martina Ruhsam writes in her article presented at the conference Does it Matter? Composite Bodies and Posthuman Prototypes in Contemporary Performing Arts and published in the joint edition of the Maska and Lutka magazines that was dedicated to the theatre of animated forms.

How do these new trends in puppetry, through the perspective of post-humanist thought, shift the gravitation in handling the relationship between the human and material, the living and non-living, and how can in this decentralised world support the emancipation of the material (puppets, object, matter, space, body … with all of their characteristics). Can it – if we recognise it as such and listen to it – become a cocreator, which can lead us in our creative process and surprise us?

The expert conference is designed as a space of meetings and dialogue coming from different perspectives and experiences in creative approaches and procedures, in order to detect the issues and challenges of new ways in puppetry.

Bases for discussion:

– Which starting points are productive and how do they influence future work? What is our basis and how do we establish the staging concept?

– Which are the basic questions we ask ourselves?

– Is the story necessary at the beginning? If so – how much of the story?

– The process as an experimental laboratory and how (un)burdened we are with the final "result"

– How do we stage: a painting, a thought, a word or a story? (the basis is the borrowed title of the article by Martina Maurič Lazar at the symposium Does a puppetry text exist? Biennial, 2013)

– The question of the body and role of an animator within a puppetry composition

– Relation to meaning: who forms meaning (purpose); where does it form and when is its time

– Exploration of materials and technology

– Organisation of work and the planning of the creative process

– What do different ways of collaboration bring?

– Space for productive and creative mistakes

– How to think spaces and puppetry potentials?

The discussion will be led by Nika Arhar and will be done in collaboration with the Association of Theatre Critics and Researchers of Slovenia.