A Playful Movement; Czech and Polish Veteran and Mid-Careerist Animators


25 October 2011 – 4 December 2011, Master Bedroom and AV Room

Curated by Miriam Harris and co-ordinated by Deborah Lawler-Dormer.

The Czech Republic and Poland enjoy a particularly rich animation tradition, characterised by features such as absurdity, playful irreverence, black humour, and profound reflections on the human condition. Aided and abetted by the strong tradition of artistic disciplines in these countries such as puppetry and illustration, the animation scene post World War II was also ironically supported by governmental funding under Communism.

In the first part of this exhibition, the work of ten significant Czech and Polish animators are foregrounded. These animators included both veterans and mid-careerists, ranging in age from fifty years to eighty-eight, who had all experienced the trials and ironic support of creative production under Communism, and whose work, to varying degrees, demonstrated themes of subversive irreverence towards the oppressive powers of authority. Playfulness, absurdity, black humour, and a profound reflection upon the human condition are also common traits observed in their work.

The veteran and mid-career animators represented in this exhibition all experienced this era (dubbed by some as “the golden c/age”), where creative innovation in the field of animation flourished, at the cost of Soviet censorship, and having to bury political protest beneath metaphors and allegory. It can be said that this situation, in contrast to the more frothy frolics represented in Disney films, gave rise to animated films with an added depth and subversive playfulness. Many of the Czech and Polish animators from this era created animated films that are now regarded as classics, and which garnered numerous awards. With the collapse of Communism, these animators have mostly turned to teaching in order to make a living (and have fostered a vibrant new generation of animators in the process), while continuing to produce artistically innovative work.

The first part of this exhibition aims to present these animators as living, breathing people rather than iconic figures on the other side of the world, by presenting their films, tangible sketches and storyboards, as well as an account from curator Dr Miriam Harris about meeting with them in January this year.

For information on Part Two of this exhibition Click Here

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