Pinocchio(s) by Alice Laloy
An exploration of the moment the living becomes a doll.
The photo exhibition Pinocchio(s) was first premiered at the International Puppetry Festival of Charleville-Mézières in 2017 and consists of 45 images. In this series, Alice Laloy takes a closer look at the legend of Pinocchio. Laloy mirrors the process of Geppettos wish for a puppet to become a real boy by transforming children into marionettes.
The exhibition bestows a sense of timelessness. Laloy’s dark and soft pastel-like photos are poignant in their depiction of contorted lifelessness. Small separate worlds of human puppets thrown into the sceneries in impossible positions as if discarded or forgotten.
There are many layers to be explored in the moment when the living transforms into a puppet. Personally, I can’t help to draw a parallel to the journey we take as humans from the time we are born to how we form an identity. I see the Pinocchios as submitting their purpose in a sense to be on behalf of something else. Wherever we are born into the world, we are born into a culture. Fitting into any culture comes with strings, just like the Pinocchios we are conditioned to be in certain ways, whether it be good, bad or merely beneficial. But then again, one who is without culture who is she?
The creator of Pinocchio(s), Alice Laloy, studied scenography & costume design at the National School of Theatre of Strasbourg(2001). It was here she first encountered the art of puppetry. After graduating she founded the theatre company S’Appelle Reviens (2002) and has since created several plays and performances for the stage, both for adult audiences as well as for young children. Laloy’s work is versatile, and she is not foreign to mixing artistic disciplines to deepen the impact of her work.
As part of the exhibition, a screen with the performance art piece with the same name is shown. Pinocchio(live) was premiered in May 2019 at the opening of Biennale internationale des arts de la marionnette in Paris. In the film, a theatrical, playful soundtrack builds up the suspension. The children come in as living and are made lifeless by their handlers and disposed of onto the floor where they are regaining life as puppets. Yellow hats and striped shirts with shorts upheld by suspenders are paired with red lips, doll hair and fake blue eyes. It makes an exciting scenery that borders on the unreal. Seeing the performance in addition to the photo series intensifies the Pinocchio(s) experience.
The first photos of Pinocchio(s) were produced in France. But in aim of reaching closer towards the disarticulated bodies of puppets, the following photo series were shot in Mongolia in the contortion schools in Oulan Bator. The art of contortionism dates back to the 13th century and is part of the Mongolian national culture; it is usually performed by girls or young women trained since early childhood.
The Pinocchio(s) exhibition has been on tour around the world, and hopefully, it will continue to travel in the coming year. But as the pandemic is still very much going on around the world a visit online might have to do at the time being. To keep up with current dates, click here. If you live near any of the upcoming venues, a visit in the future is highly recommended.
*Featured photo: Pinocchio(s) – Série N°7 by Alice Laloy. Model: Enkhbat Minjin. Production Cie S’Appelle Reviens.