Cowan’s massive sculpture and video installation The Palace of Raw Dreams 2012, is formed of a towering walkway that rises above and also supports a screen onto which is projected a film showing passages taken from Sicilian puppet shows. Cowan had made the walkway, the primary structure of the sculpture, some time ago, after seeing a puppet show in the Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum of Palermo in 2003. Constructed in fine Douglas fir sourced by Cowan for its warm slightly red colour, it also alludes to the puppeteers’ stand and theatre. In the context of its sculptural composition, ideas of connectivity through bridging or passing through come to mind. And in its form, the framework also recalls part of a competitive assault course for dogs that featured in Cowan’s four-minute film Oh no . . . it’s not dead, made in 2011.
In January 2012 Cowan again visited the Puppet Museum in Palermo to film the puppets for The Palace of Raw Dreams. Her film, however, is not so much about the antique puppets, some of which date from the eighteenth century, or indeed the narratives behind their dramas, but about the actual performance, partially seen in a fragmented way due to her of different cameras that show the puppets’ differing locations within the film. What has happened through both Cowan’s intent and her intuition is a great feeling of mystery and a sense of things being fractured, slightly concealed, off-centre; as the viewer is shown foreground, background, audience, front-stage and back-stage in seemingly chance sequences.
New work by Judith Cowan