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"Czech Puppet" is a series of paintings that respond to the true history of the Czech nation.

In the 17th Century, when the kingdom of Bohemia was under Habsburg rule, the local language--Czech language almost disappeared. The new ruler, Ferdinand II, did not tolerate non-Catholics, viewing Protestants in Bohemia as a threat to his faith. Czech locals were forced to speak the German language of their invaders.  

The act of building puppets has long been a form of protest for the Czech people. Seventeenth-Century wood-carvers, who were more versed in sculpting Baroque seats for churches than human facsimiles, started making puppets for the actors of Bohemia soon after Ferdinand II came to power, as puppets were the only remaining entities that had the right to speak Czech in public places. While the rest of the country and its people adhered to the newly imposed German language, wandering puppet-masters spoke through the puppets in their native Slavic tongue.

Thanks to the humble puppet that the Czech nation--and its language--was inadvertently saved.

Just like the Czech puppet-masters, I am wandering among countries since 2015, just for the searching of more freedom. So I want to shad some symbolic light on the "Czech Puppet" series: wandering is a way to preserve a language, thus the right of free speech.

 

"作为捷克的国粹经典,木偶剧有着它艰辛的历史!15世纪初,随着罗马教庭将捷克宗教改革先驱扬·胡斯(Jan Hus)作为异教徒处以火刑,双方的矛盾激化至顶点,从而爆发了16世纪初的白山战役,捷克宗教改革势力被击败。此后,哈布斯堡王朝的天主教势力开始了对捷克三百多年的统治,捷克不仅彻底丧失了主权和土地,民族文化也几乎全部被消灭:德语替代捷克语成为官方语言,人民被迫改奉天主教,剧院只能上演德语剧目……捷克人担心自己民族的语言会因此而消失,于是,在民间偷偷用捷克语来表演木偶剧逐渐成为捷克人建立民族自信的重要工具,大人们时常在自家桌上为孩子们表演木偶剧。"

这是木偶戏的文化背景,也是我画木偶马戏团的初衷,这几年慢慢体悟流浪是为了保存一种语言。

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  • 曾昭满

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