Basil Twist: Dogugaeshi

Reviewer's Rating


Basil Twist is a New York based artist who specialises in creating elaborate, visual spectacles loosely defined as puppetry – often abstract, or non-representative in form. He has attained something of a cult status within the puppetry world – confirmed by his recent collaboration with Kate Bush on Before the Dawn.

Dogugaeshi is the result of a 2003 commission by The Japan Society. Recollecting a short film he had seen whilst studying at École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette, Twist decided to develop a piece based around the now extinct art of dogugaeshielaborately decorated screens used during interludes in Japanese puppetry performances. The show continues to be performed across the world, on this occasion being brought to London as part of the International Mime Festival.

The piece itself is a sequence of images, predominantly abstract, accompanied live by the musician Yumiko Tanaka. The set is a series of windows, getting progressively smaller, that frame these visual sequences: like looking to wrong way down a rectangular telescope. A combination of painted panels, puppetry, shadow puppetry and projection is used to create a lucid, non-narrative and largely non-figurative audiovisual experience, performed by four invisible puppeteers. It is breathtaking – with Twist honouring this forgotten tradition whilst making it his own.

A quick word on the LIMF, now drawing to a close. This year’s was again fantastic – personal highlights being C111’s Plexus, Knights of the Invisible Circus’s Black Regent and of course Twist’s Dogugaesh. The festival is always surprising, always entertaining and always challenging – transforming an otherwise dreary season into something to look forward to.