The Rustling Horizon,
« Wer hat uns also umgredeht, dass wir was wir auch tun, in jener Haltung sind von einem, welcher fortgeht ? wie er auf dem letztem Hügel, der ihm ganz sein Tal noch einmal zeigt, sich wendet, anhält weilt-, so leben wir und nehmen immer Abschied. »
(Rainer Maria Rilke, Die achte Elegie, Elegien de Duino)
Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away? Just as, upon the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley one last time, he turns, stops, lingers—, so we live here, forever taking leave.
(Translation by Stephen Mitchell, the eight elegy, Elegies of Duino)
Seeking the universal, what connects us, rather than what divides us, and encouraging it so that the links are stronger than our divisions. I propose a vision of an organisation that is stronger for its differences, without these differences diminishing or undermining it. Looking for the derisory, like lantern boats launched at dusk under the old bridge in Mostar, where 30 years before, all the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the history of Slavic and European cultures crystallized in ethnic and religious politics, crystallised into “an end to history” and the destruction of cultures. A derision that a child’s face and smile naively expresses to us, because the horizon is still there this morning and the world has not yet collapsed into an irreversible abyss. Cruelty transgresses time and time again for crimes and atrocities without a name. An empathic flaw blinds us to the fact that we cannot understand the other person and what they are saying. Is the “hyper-strong” always right? Andersen told us about this little girl lost in the streets and bustle of the end-of-year festivities and a promising New Year. Orphaned, she dreamed of earning a few pennies, and rubbing those matches for warmth, she dreamed of warmth, a meal and a Christmas tree. Is the irrevocable always certain?
The next World Puppetry Day of 2024 is about the significance of the Climate Change, the elements, and the fragile balance of living in the world. Becoming the elements, snow, rain, sun, wind and clouds, becoming a rainbow. And also the cycle of the planets, the waves and the seasons, as well as the cycles and ages of the body. And remembering that all these cycles are rhythms that give us the choreography and gestures we need to make the world. Thank you in advance to all the centres and members, and to all the artists who will be taking part in spreading the word about our organisation. Thank you, if you could send your WPD videos and programmes before 15th February.
Thinking about the 95th anniversary of our organisation in 2024, but also and above all the 100th anniversary in 2029, means opening up a box of ideas for future projects. Let’s converse already about our desire to offer digital sessions with set designers and puppet creators, to be called “Zoom Puppet Doctors”, proposed by UNIMA Norway, talking about techniques as well as the aesthetics of puppet theatre. Let’s talk about interviews with masters and figures from the history of puppetry. Let’s think of a project as far-fetched as a film about puppets from all over the world, as Philippe Genty did in the 1960s. Think of documentaries that UNIMA could support and develop. Think of the Research Commission’s proposal to create projects around the question of borders. Let’s think about projects in puppet schools, all of which, in one way or another, are linked to UNIMA and its history. We invite each centre to prepare proposals for the future of UNIMA and to answer this simple question “What is UNIMA?” with a short video for 20th March 2024.
The first of the “Eccentrics” projects, as proposed in my previous letter to develop new ways of collaboration and solidarity between the UNIMA Centres, was a great success in Mostar of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 3rd edition of the FLUM festival of the Pozorist Lutaku v Mostaru (25th to 29th September 2023). The UNIMA PUPPETRY COLLABORATORIUM project, was developed under the patronage of the UNESCO NGO Liaison Office, led by UNIMA Croatia, UNIMA Ireland, and the Pozorist Theatre of Mostar, and other centres in Norway, Bulgaria, British Unima, Belgium, Ukraine, South Korea and centres in Africa such as Algeria, Kenya, Togo and South Africa. A range of programmes and activities had been planned, including an interview with the Slovenian master Edi Majaron, director of the Mostar theatre in the 1980s, a professional meeting for set designers from the various centres present, but above all this workshop with children from the different communities of Mostar (Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian) for the happening of the launch of the lantern boats under the bridge on 28th September 2023, and also the installation RELATION-ships by the set designers Claudia Lamentea and Tina Suhonen. A new 2024 project will aim to develop links between UNIMA Colombia, UNIMA Kenya and other centres. In parallel with the Eccentrics projects, decentralisation projects will hopefully see the light of day very soon in Africa.
Since the Executive Committee meeting on 16th November 2023, a UNIMA protocol, which I proposed, has been unanimously approved and is now being put in place to allow funds to be granted for any project, not only from the Commissions, but also from the Centres and members. This possibility of UNIMA funds aims to promote collaboration and solidarity between the centres and to develop Eccentrics projects. A calendar with two deadlines has been set up. The first campaign has started and shall end on 15th February 2024. Further information is available at email@example.com. We will also soon have a new member of staff joining the UNIMA team as a digital communications officer. The selection procedure is underway – the deadline for applications closed on 15th December; launched since 3rd November. We hope to welcome the new team member on 15th January 2024. We would like to thank Artsolute and our international advisor Terence Tan, for their technical, organisational and communications support and contributions to the success of the Bali Council and the back-office contact, projects, and communication tasks from July 2022 till January 2024.
The year 2024 is also the year of candidatures for the next Executive Committee of UNIMA International. An election committee was elected at the Bali Council, with 5 members, taking into account geographical representativeness: Beth Bado (Brazil), for the South American and American continent, Phylmon Odhiambo (Kenya) representing Africa, Dimas Samodra (Indonesia) representing Asia and the Pacific, and Roberta Colombo (Italy) and Svetlomira Stoyanova (Bulgaria, president of the election committee) representing Europe. You can already send your application. A page presenting the members of the Election Committee is online (https://www.unima.org/en/commissionelections-2023-27/) with the rules for nominees and the email detail of the Elections Committee. Candidacies will close on 23rd September 2024, 9 months before the Chuncheon International Congress scheduled for 23rd-30th May 2025.
All my best wishes for 2024!
Dimitri Jageneau, General Secretary of UNIMA