The World of Shadow Theatre

From Asia to Europe
3 October 2015 - 10 April 2016

The exhibition will focus on the tradition of this art and the fascination that it has engendered from China through Southern Asia, the Orient and all the way to Europe.

Throughout the history of mankind, the mysterious interplay between light and shadow has always been spellbinding. Above all this fascination has achieved its richest cultural expression in Asiatic countries such as China, Indonesia and India, where deeply-rooted traditions of shadow theatre have developed. Calling on fine collections, this exhibition will explore the close connections between Asia and the Orient’s shadow puppetry, tracing its influence all the way to Greece.

Alongside commonalities in staging principles, narrative elements or figure typologies, specific features particular to regional types of shadow theatre will be explored. In India and Thailand and on Java, shadow theatre must be considered within the context of temple festivities and as a ceremonial action. Even today, epics such as the Ramayana are told through this art form, making it an important contributor to cultural identity. In China, elements associated with traditional Chinese opera such as music, costumes and masks are absorbed into an artistic whole, whereas in the Orient, shadow theatre mirrored societal developments.

This exhibition calls on treasured objects belonging to the collection of the Linden-Museum that have not yet been shown to the public. Further enriching the exhibition are the Chinese figures of the Eger collection, early collections of South East Asian figures, and above all the . exceptional Egyptian figures of the Kahle collection, the oldest known shadow puppets in the Islamic world. More recent collections, such as the Indian figures of the Seltmann collection and the Turkish shadow puppets of famous Ragip Tugtekin (1891 – 1982), complete the old collections.

Also elucidated will be the artistic magnificence and aesthetic quality of the impressive shadow puppets, which inspired artists such as Franz Marc, and continue to fascinate to this day. A further subject of the exhibition will be the enthusiasm for shadow theatre that peaked in the first third of the 20th century as well as the development of contemporary forms of shadow theatre, which will be illustrated with loans from the International Shadow Theatre Centre in Schwäbisch Gmünd.

Copyright: studios dell' arte

This exhibition will be presented in cooperation with the International Shadow Theatre Centre and the International Shadow Theatre Festival Schwäbisch Gmünd.

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