Monday, August 23, 2010

Marionettes From Another Place

THIS WEEKEND I HAD THE GREAT FORTUNE TO reacquaint myself with an old classmate by the name of Malcolm Jones, a writer for Newsweek and longtime newspaper reporter. The occasion was our 40th high school reunion in Winston-Salem, NC, and it was a great time. Malcolm recently wrote a memoir that I have been reading non-stop since I left, a book entitled Little Boy Blues, a recounting of his life growing up in the Twin City.

I enjoyed a thread throughout his book, his astonishment as a youngster in seeing his first marionette show and subsequent Christmas present(s) of receiving marionettes as gifts. His marionettes became a part of his personal world as an only child, a world sometimes misunderstood by relatives who often asked “is Malcolm still playing with dolls?” So, in honor of getting to know Malcolm again—after a short, 40-year hiatus, I dedicate this post to him. Watch for a future post on this fascinating book about growing up in the South in the 1950s and 60s. His book was dead on in capturing a slice of Southern life one never understands unless you have lived it. His words are bringing back a flood of memories. And oh, btw— Amazon gives it 5 stars.

And now, to the post!

ERIK SANKO is a musician, artist and marionette-maker who lives in New York City. I think his marionettes are creepy and wonderful—like Tim Burton characters. Sanko produces these figures for elaborate shows—certainly an experience that one would be fortunate to see.

Want to learn more? Go to Erik’s website here.

Some press on Erik Sanko’s work:

The Village Voice: “...a repulsively refulgent marionette show featuring the seven deadly sins... [Sanko] and erstwhile Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman offer a delightfully eerie score that tickles and alarms. Irish songster Gavin Friday lends his gravelly tones to the narration. The design team has built costumes and sets with any number of sinister trims and frills. Indeed, for those souls with a taste for the elegantly macabre, attendance is highly advised. To miss it now that would be a sin.”

The New York Times: “Mr. Sanko’s figures are the grim spawn of Edward Gorey and David Lynch, with papier-mache faces more grizzled and world-weary than those of most character actors.‘ Very few puppet theaters take advantage of their creepy factor,’ Mr. Sanko said... The set underscores why The Fortune Teller is an anomaly in the sphere of marionette theater, or any theater: a level of intricacy most commonly seen in fine art.”


Hannah Stephenson said...

Gosh I love this kind of stuff!

While I was in Tokyo this spring I visited the Yokohama Doll Museum. There, I met an amazing dollmaker named Sanae Andoh, and saw her gorgeous and creepy creations...there is little on the web about her in English. Here are a couple examples of her work:

You'd have loved it!!!

ArtSparker said...

Saw some of these in a gallery in brooklyn some years back, I remember them vividly.

Heather King said...

Beautiful, haunting, unnerving...brings to mind Street of Crocodiles by The Brothers Quay. Your blog is wonderful. Do you know Rosamond Purcell's "Natural Anomalies and Historical Monsters?" And I'm sure I need not mention The Museum of Jurassic Technology in my own L.A. and Lawrence Weschler's reflections thereon: "Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder"...Thank you for tramping about the universe and bringing back such odd, rare, and precious treasures.

machinewithnoname said...

so great! reminds me of paul klee's dolls and puppets

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Sanko's work is wonderful. I had the great pleasure of seeing his Seven Deadly Sins piece a few years ago.

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