In Praise of Shadows

In Praise of Shadows

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

January 31, 2009

In Praise of Shadows
22 January 2009 – 6 May 2009

Meclis-i Mebusan Ave. Liman İşletmeleri

Sahası Antrepo No:4 Karaköy – ISTANBUL

İstanbul Museum of Modern Art calls everyone to discover the influence of traditional shadow theatre on the cinema of the turn of the 20th century and on contemporary art of today, with its new exhibition “In Praise of Shadows”.

“In Praise of Shadows” is inspired by the long history of shadow theatre in Turkey and Greece and comprises works that are based on folk tales or simple contemporary narratives. The exhibition brings together the most important works of eight contemporary artists from seven different countries and of two master filmmakers from the first half of the 20th century.

“In Praise of Shadows” explores the parallels between the traditions of shadow theatre and the new narrative spirit in contemporary art. It also reveals the influence which this traditional art form has had on the world of contemporary art in recent years.

At the heart of the exhibition is the shadow theatre tradition of Turkey and Greece and its main protagonist Karagöz (Karaghiozis in Greece). The exhibition brings together key works by Haluk Akakçe (Turkey), Nathalie Djurberg (Sweden), William Kentridge (South Africa), Katariina Lillqvist (Finland), Jockum Nordström (Sweden), Christiana Soulou (Greece), Andrew Vickery (Great Britain) and Kara Walker (U.S.A.), selected for their specific affinities with that world. They range from free-standing model theatres, drawings and wall installations to films, photographs, texts and manuscripts relating to shadow theatre. Early silhouettes and stop-motion (frame-by-frame) films by Lotte Reiniger (Germany) and Ladislas Starewitch (Poland), pioneers of animated films from the first half of the 20th century, form an important part of the exhibition.

The curator of the exhibition Paolo Colombo got the title “In Praise of Shadows” from a lecture given by William Kentridge at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001 and that Kentridge himself has borrowed it from a pamphlet of 1935, named “In Praise of Shadows” written by Junichiro Tanizaki.

Oya Eczacıbaşı, the Chair of Board of İstanbul Modern, emphasizes that İstanbul Modern has undertaken the leadership and coordination of the exhibition as from the conceptual formation throughout all the preparation process and that for the first time an authentic exhibition is realized by the co-operation of three museums. “İstanbul Modern thus takes its place in the map of international travelling exhibitions by its commonly organized projects, as with the exhibition of ‘Design Cities’ previously”, she says.

“In Praise of Shadows” was displayed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin from November 5, 2008 to January 4, 2009, and after the exhibition in İstanbul Modern, will travel to the Benaki Museum in Athens from May 23 to July 26, 2009.

İstanbul Museum of Modern Art

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