Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lotte Reiniger, Part 1

In 2011 a longtime dream of mine was fulfilled when I visited Berlin for the first time with my partner Shane Jones. We stayed in historic Charlottenburg, which, unlike many other parts of Berlin, wasn’t completely obliterated by air raids in World War II. But it was far from unscathed.

In the 1920s the Kurfürstendamm area of Charlottenburg was a magnet for artists, writers, musicians and composers, including Otto Dix, Alfred Döblin, Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Bertolt Brecht, Max Liebermann, Stefan Zweig and Friedrich Hollaender. This came to a tragic and untimely end, however, with the rise of the Nazi Party.

It was only after I returned to Australia and started focusing on her work more fully, that I discovered that Chalottenburg was also the birthplace of animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger (1889-1981).

From late last night into the early hours of this morning I sat at the computer sourcing online images and stills from Reiniger’s films. As regular visitors to this blog will be aware, it was her silhouette animations, in particular her masterpiece The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1922) that were the point of departure for my own silhouette imagery. With a forthcoming show that showcases this new direction in my work, it seemed timely to revisit her work here.

I’m not sure what time it was – perhaps 1.30 or 2 am – before I also noticed that today is actually the anniversary of Reiniger’s birthday, making this post doubly significent.

To learn more about Lotte Reiniger and her extraordinary achievements, click HERE.

To see some of Reiniger's shadow puppets, see Happy Birthday, Lotte Reiniger, Part 2 on Moth Woman Press HERE.

The restored version of The Adventures of Prince Achmed debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. The poster and a series of stills from the film are pictured below.