The Chapel of No Religion where Peter Schumann’s performances at the Queens Museum of Art take place. All photos by Troy Hahn for Untapped Cities.
In 1963, artist Peter Schumann began his unique brand of political puppetry in NYC’s Lower East Side. The traveling theatre and press entitled Bread and Puppet was born, addressing stories of local social concerns and unrest. As national concerns grew, ironically so did the puppets themselves; 20 foot tall puppets towered as part of protests to the Vietnam War in the streets of New York. Bread and Puppet Press is now based out of Vermont where summertime puppet shows and pageants have been drawing a crowd for 20 years. For its 50th anniversary, an exhibition in the Queens Museum of Art brings the Bread and Puppet environment back to New York City, which also welcomes Schumann to monthly performances with his quirky puppets.
The program for Schumann’s exhibition is an immersive experience entitled “The Shatterer.” It consists of “two new large-scale immersive installations, created specifically for the Museum’s new galleries, combining painting, drawing, papier-mâché sculpture, and handmade books.” A uniform black, white, and grey creates the ominous theme of the entire exhibition, which features the ghoulish puppets and various drawings, some of which date back up to 50 years. Puppet shows take place in a papier-mâché chapel entitled “Chapel of No Religion.”
If you are left questioning the name of Schumann’s endeavor, this last bit will surely draw you in. The Queens Museum also has a portable brick oven set up as part of the exhibition in the chapel, where the artist will be making fresh bread in residence–a practice he has also been doing since 1963–for the duration of the exhibit. Upcoming dates for his performances and bread-making include January 11, February 15, and March 15 from 1-5pm.
Here are more photos by Troy Hahn from a recent showing of Schumann’s performance:
Read also about the making of puppets for the Greenwich Village Halloween parade in our profile of the Processional Arts Workshop. All photos by Troy Hahn.