September 25, 2012 – October 27, 2012
Puppets occupy a peculiar liminal space between visual art and performance. They are artistically constructed objects, often of breathtaking craft and intricacy, but they do not fulfill their purpose until they move—is the puppet itself art, or is it the tool by which art is created? The puppet moves in the space between performer and viewer, whether as a vector for communication between the two or as a buffer to prevent it. It is not alive, but it accepts the life given it by the performer; it cannot speak on its own, but when it does speak, it can say more than either audience or performer would be allowed to say on their own.
In The Pedagogical Puppet, Sally Smart explores these strange in-between spaces: between the art object and performance, between process and artifact, between artist and viewer. As the University of Connecticut’s 2012 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Artist-in-Residence, Smart has collaborated with artists from across the School of Fine Arts, creating a body of work that contemplates how art and performance can function through puppetry as a mode of communication. Across such diverse media as video, dance, and performance, as well as Smart’s signature cutout installations, The Pedagogical Puppet presents a body of work that never hides the process of its creation—indeed, in many ways the process is the creation.
Simultaneously vividly evocative and resistant to passive contemplation, The Pedagogical Puppet conceives of communication as a dialogue between art and its audience. The core of pedagogy is in this dialogue between teacher and student, between art and performance and audience.
The audience is invited to engage, to argue, to question—never simply to look. The puppet resides in the spaces between, but it only lives when it speaks to those who listen.