In the beginning, a drop of water appeared, which drew the most beautiful shapes; but these were all ephemeral. However hard or complex matter may be, know that it has water as its principle. But all that has water as its foundation has no more reality than a dream, than a mirage. No one has ever considered water as a stable element. How could a construction on water be indefinitely solid?
The Conference of the Birds, Farid Ad-Din Attar (1142-1220)
To propose a future, beyond everything, beyond political, geopolitical, climate, economic, and public health crises, when bombs are falling, destroying theatres and millions of lives, when forests burn and glaciers disappear; to put aside dominant desires for power in relations between peoples and cultures when access to water and education is a more important right than ever for children and their future, when the splendour of multiple living beings and Nature is only a resource to be exploited, when the ethics of future generations and the right to renewal and hope is scorned, when power does not question its duty. Our duty as a non-governmental organisation and international association is to be stronger, accommodating projects that can overlap and feed each other and be fed by the projects of members and of centres, ride their winds, and make our network visible and synergistic for a better recognition of the arts. Too often, the puppeteer is relegated, our organisation itself being relegated as a consultant at international meetings. We do not wish to be relegated any more, we wish to be in the position to assess. We ask for more recognition, because the puppeteer is a profession in its own right. This recognition requires, above all, more knowledge of its crafts and its history, of our arts, our masters, and our oral history. We wish to support more of our centres around the world, as we wish our centres to be the vibrant heart of our association.
Is it simply humility on our part, the humility of the artist who wishes to create a show and change the world through this show – at least for the spectators who will never look at a puppet show in the same way again – or is it simply the destiny of the puppeteer or the one who loves puppets to be relegated as the marginal or the creative artist who only plays with puppets like a child? Is it always and already the myth of Pinocchio or Pygmalion who breathes life into what has none? In the case of Pinocchio, the material is already mysterious and alive, “talking wood”, and the puppet will always gesture before speech. The short term is always focused on survival with neither ambition nor vision. To find again the ambition of the founders and the ambition of the puppeteer when they create, to not only believe that the world changes with the art of puppetry, but also that puppets and the artists who devote themselves to puppetry make art. To think about the future is to propose a vision, to open and give breath to this future.
Our future will be decentralised, allowing more and more dialogue with members and centres from all over the world with a much more supportive and relaying the activities of our Executives in an open and multiple process. Our future will be multiple solidarity at all levels, as the levels will disappear for transversal projects that will act for the different puppeteer communities of the world, support the spirit and give a greater sense of belonging. Our future will see more open communication and more accessible information. New resources will have to be found in each of these lines of decentralisation, solidarity, and communication to nourish a decentralized and diverse dynamic of actions and visibilities across all continents. Our dialogue will no longer be continental but regional and, even more so, transcontinental as we open up to international horizons. In the same way, each member of a national centre is a member of UNIMA International, each action of our members with the aim to promote and create with puppetry will resound not like an echo, but like a rhythm beating in the time of inventions and reformulation across the horizon.
The year 2023 is a year beset with challenges, so more than ever we invite you to participate, to share, and to promote puppetry. World Puppet Day 2023 will celebrate its 20th anniversary (whose theme for this edition is none other than « the call to the forest ») and the Bali Council from the 26th to the 30th of April 2023 which will formulate the first hybrid international meeting for all the International Councillors and the Executive Committee. This very year, a project of a different kind of presence will be formulated for Charleville-Mézières festival, where members may wish to participate artistically. We want to give more possibilities for International Councilors and National Centres to meet, share, and plan projects in the framework of UNIMA International. We would also like to appeal to your generosity to support the Solidarity Fund and the Representation Fund launched in November on our website – your generosity will allow a greater presence of Councilors and Centres at our Bali Council as well as at all our international meetings, whether they are organised by the Executive Committee commissions or not.
Let’s hope the world will be better with us empowered and the lights shining in our eyes. May puppeteers invent new worlds and may these new worlds invite greater dialogue and dreams. May our wishes and actions change the world. Happy New Year to all of you!
General Secretary, UNIMA