4 April 2008

Secret Performance of "Terra Prenyada"

Last night I saw a secret performance of "Terra Prenyada" by master puppeteer and Spanish artist, Joan Baixas. It took place in a hidden location at the UNIMA 2008 festival. By special invitation this great work was performed for the first time in some years to a crowd of enthusiastic puppeteers and children, who also entertained the crowd with great comments throughout the show.

Baixas' work was inspired years ago during a previous trip through the Australian desert. He talks in image and raising the large sheet, he begins at the back side to make designs that are lit from the rear. Like a join-the- dots design, he makes a funny face appear almost unexpectedly from the mud swirls. A second piece on the same plastic sheet he calls Conversation. A man and woman gradually take shape. Seated in a bar, he attempts to engage the woman, but she decisively rejects him. Increasingly violent verbal exchanges follow until she reveals her inner desire for money and security. Using his brush on a stick, Baixas manages to recount this entire dialogue with vectors coming out of the couple's mouths. Naturally, the universal symbol for money is the familiar dollar sign. Vocal artist Paca Rodrigo is his collaborator in the show. She utilizes repeated syllables and sung vowels to create a varied and interesting sound texture that ideally interacts with Baixas' visuals.

Baixas is best known for his early work with the artist Joan Miro, when in 1978 produced "Mori el Merma" (Death to the Tyrant), which caused great controversy in post-Franco Spain and internationally. He is currently giving a master-class workshop 'The Great Laughing Mutant Project' during UNIMA 2008 in Perth.

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