Banners & Cranks traces its roots to the ancient practice of picture story recitation, which in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Originating in 6th Century India, this religious and later increasingly secular practice evolved as it spread east and west. Versions of the practice in Indonesia, China, Japan, and across the Middle East and Europe expanded to include instrumental music, puppets, props, broadsheets and booklets, as well as the central printed, painted, embroidered, and/or otherwise decorated narrative images. Forms of picture-story recitation continue in Iran, Turkey, India and Indonesia, while artists, puppeteers and activists in the West have unearthed startlingly modern qualities in cantastoria infusing it with fresh content. Banners & Cranks: A Cantastoria Festival, curated by artists Dave Buchen and Clare Dolan, celebrates this art form, displaying the diversity and richness of its contemporary practice in the U.S.
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