KONO DONKILI. African Puppet Theatre

The exhibition Kono Donkili is dedicated to the African puppet theatre - a drama genre which is deeply rooted in the tradition of many communities living on the Dark Continent, as evidenced by archaeological and historical sources and a rich oral tradition.

Thanks to their ability to come alive, puppets are constantly suspended between life and death, and play an important role in many rituals. They participate in the settlement of local conflicts, help to pass judgments, appear in divination ceremonies, and help in predicting the future. They play an important role in therapeutic magic, initiation rituals, cult of ancestors, funeral rites, fertility cults. In addition to this wealth of ritual uses, they also serve ordinary entertainment.

African puppets take on various forms and sizes - from really small to enormous, and they are animated by several puppeteers. They can have movable members, manipulated with strings, wires and rods. They are animated with the use of hands or feet,  and can be carried on the head, in the arms or in front of you, like a shield.

 The African puppet theatre is a completely different phenomenon from the one we know from European realities. The repertoire of African puppeteers does not have a clear dramatic form. Performances are usually short scenes, combining dance and music. They are often completely spontaneous and unpredictable. African puppetry set in its own tradition, develops dynamically, drawing boldly from other models. Local artists are willing to adopt new manipulation techniques, as well as expanding their repertoire by new characters and new messages.

The exhibition presents puppets from Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo. This is a part of the collection donated to the National Museum in Szczecin by eminent experts in the African puppet theatre Olena Darkowska-Nidzgorska and Denis Nidzgorski-Gordier.

                                                                          Ewa Prądzyńska - curator

accompanies the 28th International Festival of Puppetry Art in Bielsko-Biała

Museum Night at Galeria Bielska BWA

Exhibitions can be visited between 6 and 11pm

6-7pm -  Ewa Prądzyńska leads a curated tour of the exhibition Kono Donkili. African Puppet Theare (free admission)

7 - 9 pm - art workshop African Masks (free admission)
Workshop for children, adolescents and adults inspired by the exhibition Kono Donkili. African Puppet Theatre at Galeria Bielska BWA. Participants will create their own African masks with the use of stencils (small rolls or sponges for printing patterns on paper bags) or decorate plain cardboard masks with plasticine, coloured papers, corrugated cardboard, feathers, raffia, strings, dried leaves, or paint. The workshop will be run by Małgorzata Krzempek, a visual artist and art educator at Galeria Bielska BWA.

More about the Museum Night at Galeria Bielska BWA >>

Monday, 21 May, 12.15-3.30pm
Art in my Life - A meeting with Ewa Prądzyńska - curator of the exhibition Kono Donkili. African Puppet Theatre, curator of the National Museum in Szczecin.