Puppets: Theater, Film, Politics

Paulina Olowska
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland
19 March - 23 June, 2019

Puppets: Theater, Film, Politics, situates puppet theatre within the field of art history and within the broader context of the artistic, social, and political changes taking place in Poland in the 1950s and 1960s. During that time, creative exchanges between art and puppet theatre intensified and the latter embarked on a path of self-discovery, its artists no longer trying to imitate ‘live theatre’ but instead revealing the backstage of their craft to demonstrate the until-then concealed creative process. The puppet-theatre shows staged in Poland after 1945 — whether oriented at young or adult audiences — were interdisciplinary endeavours involving outstanding painters, sculptors, and composers, and combining experimental visuals and sounds with avant-garde pedagogical concepts.

The presentation of selected works, artists, and creative hubs, among them Paulina Olowska, has been woven around concepts such as anthropology of the body, pedagogy, or politics. The show’s authors broaden the reflection on the meanings and functions of puppets, asking about their political dimension. They exemplify diverse strategies of their use — from the exploitation of the propaganda repertoire to caricatural and derisive representations of ideological opponents – while highlighting their dangerous potential.

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Image: Paulina Olowska, The Doll House. After Michał Wasążnik, 2013