Who’s the Puppet Now?, Calgary

Marsian De Lellis, Calgary, 2011, photo: Sean Dennie
Marsian De Lellis, Calgary,
2011, photo: Sean Dennie

In March 2015, Who’s The Puppet Now?, a coffee table book of Sean Dennie’s photos was published. Created by the Calgary Animated Objects Society, the edition included a photos from my performances, Growing Up Linda – Fudgie’s Death during its run at the International Festival of Animated Objects and Object of Her Affection at REDCAT.

Growing Up Linda was an ensemble actor-puppetry performance in which a woman who believes she’s the daughter of a famous ice cream mogul must come to terms with her troubled past.  In Fudgie’s Death, a segment from Growing Up Linda, table-top pop-up books transform into full-screen cinema in a neo-noir tale of desperation and depravity.

photo: Rafael Hernandez

Object of Her Affection is a solo object and puppet-based performance art piece centered on a woman, who in her search for true love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects.

Whose the Puppet Now? is available in both hardcover and softcover at the CAOS Store. You can also see a sample.

Also Included in the book were photos and essays by: Philip Huber, Ronnie Burkett and Peter Balkwill, among others.

Pick up this astonishing collection of photographic portraits of the brightest lights in the world of puppetry, mask, and animated objects. Photographer Sean Dennie takes you behind the mask to meet the person behind the art. Who’s the Puppet Now? is a beautiful hard-bound book comprised of over 100 imaginative and revealing portraits, captured by Dennie during six IFAO from 2002-2013. Artists’ thoughts, words, and philosophies accompany the stunning photography.

While performing at the Arrivano Dal Mare festival in 2001, In the lovely Italian beach town of Cervia, I visited their newly opened puppet museum. At the back, through innumerable embattled Pulchinelli, I was taken by a series of life-sized portraits of Europe’s puppeteer greats, denuded of their beloved puppets, young and gorgeous in the bloom of youth, still kissed with the fiery blush of artistic passion. Returning to Calgary that fall, I launched the first ever International Festival of Animated Objects, and a lifelong collaboration with my partner Sean Dennie. Sean took the challenge of peeking behind the mask to capture the people behind the objects. His collection of portraits of our Festival artists is what you now hold in your hands. A body of work that reflects Sean’s own growth and development as a photographer as much as it reflects the evolution of the Festival; in 2002, black and white portraits were shot on negative film, in 2005, on color transparency, and in 2007 and following years, digital became the medium of choice for a man who will always love film best.

Thank you to The Calgary Foundation and Calgary Animated Object Society for making publication of this collection possible. And thanks to Sean and the artists, for allowing the photographer to manipulate the manipulators and ask the question, “Who’s the Puppet Now?”

 Xstine Cook,
curator of the International Animated Objects Festival

The International Festival of Animated Objects is a biennial celebration of puppets, masks, and all things animated curated by Xstine Cook and the Calgary Animated Objects Society. The 2011 festival took place over four days  – from March 9th to March 13th.