Herman Rupert – Exhibition Animator

Herman Rupert, Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Victoria, BC (exhibition animation)

October 28, 2016 (Urbanite at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria))
December 3, 2016 (Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
December 17, 2016 (Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)

Animator’s Bio: Herman Rupert (Born 21 February 1971) is a career puppeteer from Vancouver, British Columbia. His Mother, Francis Rupert, was a close friend of artist Natalie Brettschneider. When his mother became ill during the onset of lupus disease, she turned to Brettschneider for support parenting Herman. Between the ages of 5 and 10, Herman Rupert lived almost entirely at Brettschneider’s house. This was an important time for Rupert, as Brettschneider imparted knowledge about puppetry, art and performance, and gave him singing lessons. Through these creative explorations, Rupert built a sense of confidence with puppetry. In 1991, he went on to pursue studies in puppetry in France. Upon his return to Vancouver in 1998, he worked as an itinerant puppeteer contributing his skills in a variety of capacities including birthdays, late night clubs and arts festivals. Rupert continues to live and work in Vancouver.

Rupert and his puppets gained brief attention in October 2016, when Carol Sawyer brought new evidence of his personal relationship with Natalie Brettschneider to the curators Michelle Jacques and Nicole Stanbridge of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV). He was then asked to facilitate a series of puppetry workshops and walking tours within artist Carol Sawyer’s exhibition at the AGGV, titled Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive. These workshops included participatory demonstrations of Rupert and Brettschneider’s play time activities such as puppetry games, performance exercises including performing branches and other inanimate objects, singing lessons, musical paper ripping and other experimental musical forms.

Explanation: The ideas for character Herman Rupert were generated in collaboration with artist Carol Sawyer. The activities devised in the animation sequence, such as performing the branch, sought to question the nature of performance. The spirit of discovery found in the work was also embodied in me as I attempted to perform Herman Rupert and animate the exhibition. This opportunity also lead me to discover puppetry, which opened up a new performative outlet for me. Rupert represents the full realization of my work as an exhibition animator in that the character was fully integrated into the exhibition’s mythology and into my own life. During the Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive at the AGGV Oct 1 2016–Jan 8 2017, I also carried out a variety of puppetry workshops and involvements outside the gallery under the name Herman Rupert.