SALLY SMART: The Pedagogical Puppet Project



3 Apr – 5 May 2013

Artist Statement, 2013

The project is in several parts working with animation, film and puppetry to develop the performative nature of my art practice (this includes the physical movement, placement and assemblage of cut out elements in space and the conceptual framework in which I work). 

My recent series of assemblage installation work Flaubert’s Puppets and In Her Nature (The Log Dance), are informed by the content and processes of performance (cultural, psychological and political), choreography and choreographers drawings, (including referencing the revolutionary choreographers Martha Graham, Yvonne Rainer and Pina Bausch).

It is the processes of mapping, construction, assemblage and choreography I want to explore through stop-motion animation and film: To animate my assemblage work creating a completely new development in my practice.

 Since the mid 1990’s I have used painted cut-outs to create large-scale installation work primarily made of painted fabric with collage and photomontage elements pinned directly to the gallery wall. The use of materials is integral to the conceptual unfolding of this work, the process of cutting, pining, staining and stitching – and their association with women’spractices.

I have worked as a visual artist developing a substantial oeuvre in which persistent themes and concerns emerge, often characterized by my exploration of ideas relating to the body, the home and history. My art practice has had a longstanding engagement with theoretical debates about gender and identity. Along with the relationship between the body and contemporary thought I have looked at neglected women’s histories, as subjects for my art, these include In Her Nature (2011); Decoy Nest(2008); The Exquisite Pirate (2005-); Painting in the Dark(2004); Daughter Architect(2003);Design Therapy(2002); Parameters Head(2000-01).

My new work investigates conceptually the artist/ puppeteer /simultaneously performer and theatre, through extensions of the body (including the head dress and multiple puppet elements). This will be the basis for further research into the walking theater, (traveling solo puppet performers) originating and existing in Asia and parts of Europe.

Along with incorporating the shadow puppetry tradition and applying this to making digital film work. I also combine this with my interest in performance objects and the puppet. I first made puppet works in 1997 -1998 with a series titled Die Dada Puppen, and more recently suspended puppet like works commissioned by Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Australia, in a series titledArtists Dolls (2012) however these works are not articulated or performed.I have had a long engagement with the avant-gardemodernist women artists, identified with the art practices of Cubism, Dada and Surrealism (Delaunay, Hoch, Popova and Taeuber) all great exponents of work with performance and puppets.