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Director of iKEDi Airan Berg is interviewed by the editor of Cat&Dog Magazine…

What is the story behind your interest in puppets? What kind of training did you receive?

I became interested in puppet after my stay in Bali, Indonesia, when I studied masked dance and shadow puppetry. In 1993 Martina Winkel and I founded a visual theatre company in Vienna called “Theatre without Boundaries”, which specialised on puppetry for adults. We also initiated the biannual international puppetry festival for adults “The Power of Wonder”. In the context of our international work I met Roger Titley in South Africa, who is the designer of iKEDi. What I like about puppets is that they create a link in the public to their own childhood and to their emotions. It challenges their phantasies.

Have you carried out similar events and projects in other countries? Could you give examples?

iKEDi is a further development of a participatory project based on the story of Noah’s Ark and the Flood, which took place in Linz in 2009 as part of the European Capital of Culture program. Over 1000 volunteers built almost 500 large animals in a central workshop, over a period of 4 months, and then performed with them in a large scale event in front of over 100,000 spectators. The adaptation for Istanbul was that the workshops became mobile and are going to the people, and that the message that we are all istanbulites is incorporated in the choice of puppets the people make inthe streets. iKEDi was also presented in Burgos, Spain and was the inspiration for a project at the Helsinki Festival, where Roger Titley designed other creatures, which have a relationship with Finland.

What is the gist of this project realized with giant puppets? What do you aim to communicate to the participant and the spectator?

The giant puppets travel through the city announcing the public workshops. They draw the people to the parks or public squares, where the public can participate by building different animals that all live in Istanbul’s streets, skies, and waters. Making people aware that we are all istanbulites sharing the same city.

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