In Indonesia, shadow puppetry is a tradition that has been deeply woven into the country’s fabric for more than a thousand years—and it’s the launching point for the way that Indonesian artists Iwan Effendi and Mulyana explore imaginative worlds and characters.
The two are making their New York City debut at Sapar Contemporary with Jumping the Shadow, which opened this month and runs through Aug. 21.
For Effendi, artistry is in the blood: His grandfather was a shadow puppet master before he became a political prisoner. Drawing early inspiration from comics, Effendi formed a performance theater group with his wife and used puppetry as a tableaux vivant (or living picture). His latest work, featured in the show, comes to life in charcoal and mixed media.
“The kinetic puppet’s personas begin as drawings and are created using layers of papier mâché and clay,” which are then “delicately mounted on sinewy bodices that are constructed with stockings, bamboo and cloth,” the gallery writes.
Mulyana, meanwhile, believes knitting and crochet to be a form of meditation and prayer—and in this exhibition viewers discover the thriving oceanic biosphere he has constructed.
“Mulyana’s creatures cast beautiful shadows reminiscent of shadow puppet scenes but dazzle us with the beauty of their intricate details,” the gallery writes. “The magical worlds he creates appeal to our collective consciousness—he believes that protecting the environment and being a good neighbor go hand in hand. Using repurposed yarn, his collaborative practice invokes ideas of spirituality and community by a poignant portrayal of a magical underwater world that is quickly eroding.”
Dive into the imagery below.