Date of Award
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
The Chinese shadow puppet tradition is one of negotiation: where the local (folktales and traditions) meets the national (“culture”?), and the national (??) meets the international (???). It is a cultural practice in which the "masses" create "entertainment," which is then intellectualized and "refined" by social (and cultural) “elites.”
In a nation that has rejected "feudalism" in the past, the shadow puppet tradition is one of many at risk of being commercialized and exported as national commodity. It offers potential cultural “heritage,” soft power to go hand-in-hand with China's economic and industrial might. When a nation has produced everything and exported everywhere, where must it look to mark or brand itself in a world of monotonic goods and services, of homogenizing capitalistic globalization? More importantly, where can its people look? Who are its “people”?
Through the foil of the Chinese shadow puppet tradition, I ask questions of identity and culture in a world that is migrating beyond the physical (towards virtual sociocultural landscapes). I dissect the various façades of my puppet theatre through an exploration of Peter Schumann’s 1999 article, “What, At the End of This Century, Is the Situation of Puppets & Performing Objects?” In the process, I discover myself as puppeteer and subject-at-hand. Thus, the study of my artist practice as a whole is an ongoing enquiry into self-identity and issues of "inheriting” a culture in our current technological landscape, as complicated by globalization and internationalism (both economic and socio-cultural).
Xie, Xinyi, "The Lifted Shadow" (2016). Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Papers. 4.