CREATIVE PROJECTS
YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN

Documentary film by Pietra Brettkelly

Shadow story recreation interstitials collaboration, 2017

  

Pietra Brettkelly's new documentary about China's high-end fashion designer, Guopei, brings up questions of politics and culture, generational changes and globalization​. Two short shadow interstitials were created to animate Guopei's origin story as a budding designer in Communist era China.

Premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2018

Link to trailer here.

IMMATERIAL REMAINS

Fine Arts Exhibition

@ Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal 2017

  

As the practice of Chinese shadow puppetry languishes, the traditional shadow puppets are dying by the thousands: neglected to ruin, strung up, misunderstood or framed in permanent silence in the name of ‘preservation’. Soon, these static shadow bodies will be the only traces of the living form that remain. Immaterial Remains captures the vision of a ghostly Chinese shadow puppet future.

Each 'ghost box' features a lighting relay system that toggles between static front-lit scenes of empty objects and props with ghostly back-lit scenes that leave an impression of their inhabited past.

Video here.

BEFORE/GHOSTS/AFTER   前/鬼/后

Creation and Performance at the Lijiang Artists Residency @ Lijiang, Yunnan China 2016

 

At this one-month residency, I explored the incredible phenomenon of China's "ghost cities", which instead of having been abandoned and left unpopulated, had been built in overzealous expectation and never populated. These ghost cities, planned and built to house millions, remain empty, waiting. Using shadows on glass and projected into empty village homes, I animated what I hope will be Future Ghosts: a glimpse of who is to come.  

 

 

THE ORIGIN OF SHADOWS

Chinese Shadow Puppetry Performance

@ Montreal Botanical Gardens, 2015, 2016

 

Commissioned by the Montreal Botanical Gardens as a culimnation of our interactive project this summer, this performance is a short shadow presentation geared towards a public audience. The fictional origin legend of Chinese shadow puppetry is recreated in brilliant colored leather shadows with bi-lingual English and French text and surrounded by the Botanical Garden's stunning Chinese garden during their annual lantern festival.

 

 

MINIATURE TRADITIONAL
CHINESE SHADOW PUPPETS

Installation

The Thorne Miniature Rooms @ The Art Institute of Chicago, 2014

 

I was recently commissioned to create a set of 1" scaled miniature traditional Chinese shadow puppets for display in their Thorne Miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. At first, I wasn't sure I was up to the mini-challenge. But, attempt after attempt proved too exciting to give up. I finally achieved fully-jointed leather-cut shadow puppets at around 1 1/2" high.

 

HANDS

Painted Shadow Performance

Montreal, QC, Canada @ Cafe Concret & the Phenomena Festival 2014,

St. Paul, MN @ The National Puppet Slam/Puppeteers of America National Festival 2017

 

Cognitive archeologists say our hand exceptionalism (independent movable fingers, sensitive fingertips, and opposable thumbs) has enabled our brain's development. The ability to physically 'grasp' has led to our mind's ability to 'grasp' new concepts and understanding about our world's materiality and along with it, our human everything.

 

​This short manifesto about Hand Intelligence and the newer epidemic of Hand Regression is accompanied by a Hand Regenerating technique of live illustrative shadow painting to enliven the message. 

Video here.

THERE'S NOTHING TO TELL  没有什么可说

Shadow Puppet Performance

Minneapolis, MN @ In the Heart of the Beast Theatre 2012, 2013​

 

The story centers on a grandfather's autobiography as a shadow puppeteer in China's dynastic era through the Cultural Revolution.  Along with his Chinese American granddaughter, the audience discovers Chinese shadow puppetrys sordid history, exquisite artistry and illuminating storytelling through her grandfather's reliving of his past.



This show is a culmination of my years of fieldwork in traditional Chinese shadow puppetry and directly reflects my training.  The shadow puppets are all handcut out of leather hide and presented in traditional countryside style which means the audience can watch from a 360degree view. 

Video here.

HUTONG SHADOW BIKE TOUR

Mobile Shadow Performance on the Back of a Beijing Bicycle

Beijing, China 2011 & 2012



Shadow puppetry was born in China over two thousand years ago in the court of Emperor Han Wudi. After it's royal beginnings, shadow puppetry quickly became the people's art form. For two thousand years, traditional Chinese shadow puppetry has been passing down rural China's oral history through light and shadow. Sadly, after a century of political instability, regime change and modernization, the form seems to be on a terminal decline. Or is it? 

This tour was part fun, part performance as research to assess to feasibility of a new shadow puppet audience in urban China. Indeed, the audience is there and hungry for more.

littleBIGworld

Miniature Model Puppet Performance with Live Video Feed

Artery 2010 at the Soap Factory

 

little BIG world is a small exploration of humanitys fascination with observing its animated self.   An acknowledgement of both the small scale in which we live our lives and the larger collective we belong to.  An installation of 1" scale landscape models of recognizable locale reenacted live and captured on live video feed.

The relationship of audience to performance is once removed through the medium of puppetry and twice through the medium of video. Scored softly by music, the audience may observe the film of the reenactment or the reenactment itself, which is the physical creation of something resembling themselves.

Video here.

AFTER SUNSET SHADOW SHOWS

Shadow Puppet Performance

On tour in the Minneapolis Parks 2010 and 2011


A free, family friendly show performed throughout the summer at numerous Minneapolis parks.  Past years have included old fairy tale adaptations as well as new works for shadow theatre.  


Our mission is to introduce a new audience to shadow puppetry as well as enlivening the outdoors at night.  

 

SHADOWS & REFLECTIONS

Presented at the University of Minnesota's Xperimental Theatre in spring, 2009. 

 

A full length experimental new work for shadows, completely scored with live environmental soundscape.



The exploration of a puppets, and by relation, a human's journey from unconciousness to concious.  Birth, growth, struggle, journey and ultimately death.

 

Performing the Hare