Inventing Characters

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

“There are many advantages in puppets. They never argue. They have no crude views about art. They have no private lives.”

– Oscar Wilde

Inventing Characters was an exhibition held at Cross Street Studios, during the first Auckland Fringe Festival in 2009. The exhibition consisted of a selection of work from four recent fine arts graduates, including myself, whose work was focused around the invention of characters and an interest in narrative.

Here are a couple of photos of the exhibition installed at Cross Street Studios:

From left to right: Mary Whalley, Sophie Watson, Genista Jurgens

From left to right: Genista Jurgens and Aleksandra Petrovic

Sophie Watson, Genista Jurgens, Mary Whalley and I organised the show with the objective to create and exhibit hand-made objects that blur the lines between ‘art’ and ‘craft’. Through the characters, the work focused on human encounters, narrative and the human desire for storytelling. We had a shared interest in engaging with the audience in some way through the invention of our characters, and the subsequent display of them. We were also excited about the audience’s responses to the characters presented before them and how the audience made sense of who or what they were and why they were in the exhibition. Even the explanation that someone had created a particular character out of  humble materials, from an idea that seemingly taken out of thin air, and placed within the context of the exhibition, was a type of narrative. And the role narrative plays in the understanding of characters and providing a context for the viewing of the work was also an integral part of our approach.

Puppets and dolls are highly effective, dynamic, and creative means of exploring the richness of interpersonal relationships. Throughout history puppets and dolls have been employed as a way of engaging the audience in a story. They blur the line between the human and the unhuman; allowing the audience to explore countless different possibilities between characters and the role of narrative. By adding two dimensional work such as drawings and paintings as an accompaniment to the three-dimensional works, we sought to build connections and ideas about narrative, wall hung ‘art’ and three-dimensional ‘craft’ and how these might sit side by side and relate to one another.

My contribution was a diorama with some puppet components, but not a complete puppet. There were outfits on the wall, which could be removed and used to dress the mannequin located next to the dresses. There were also puppet heads and a hand, on plinths next to the turret diorama. There was also an artist’s book of drawings relating to the work installed, and a framed drawing.

The works visible in the background, behind the turret diorama, are Genista Jurgens’ dollhouse; as well as Sophie Watson’s ghost figures and gouache works on the far wall of the exhibition space.

All images Copyright 2017, Aleksandra Petrovic

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