The current issue of the magazine Puppetry International (published by UNIMA USA) is dedicated to the exciting topic of collections and collectors. It was a great pleasure for us to be able to present our collection from KOLK 17 in an article. The issue Spring/Summer #49 Collection & Collectors can now be ordered online. In our article we outline the history of our collection and report on our work and challenges with the help of some examples.
Exhibits of European puppet theatre traditions make up a large part of the KOLK 17 collection. For example, the collection includes numerous artefacts from the estate of the Winter family of puppeteers. In addition to theatre puppets, these also include interesting documents that offer a detailed insight into the work of the puppeteers and the background of puppet theatre.
Unfortunately, for most of the exhibits of non-European origin, it is precisely these backgrounds that are unclear. This is particularly noticeable in the case of approximately 300 objects that were only assigned to the continent of “Africa”. Only about a third were assigned to specific countries or regions during the last inventory in 2010. Some objects could now be attributed to regions and communities in Mali, Nigeria, Gabon and Tanzania. Nevertheless, the cultural backgrounds of many puppet theatre traditions need to be further explored.
Outlook: What will the collection deal with in the future?
All our objects have suffered one loss: the lack of performance. The exhibits are merely traces of theatrical experiences. How can these traces be read, researched and documented? How can cultural contexts be taken into account alongside the performance based ones? How can a multi-voiced, multi-level area of knowledge be created around the objects? These questions will occupy the KOLK 17 collection in the future.