Both these videos were reproduced here on this blog from Etsy's blog section, with the kind permission of Geahk Burchill.
We all know the irrational "fear of clowns"...I know I have experienced it, BUT Geahk's work is a bit refined, in that I find myself caught in a "twilight zone" of being fascinated, haunted, and a bit repulsed and uncomfortable by each intity he creates...not because they are so alien to me BUT that they touch upon a "magic mirror"...reflecting & amplifying the image I sometimes see and fear in the shadows of my soul.
The first video concentrates on the artist and his process...the second delves more into the results of his colaborative efforts. I did ask about his "pivotal moment" with the idea of marionettes. The following is a shortened paraphrase version of his response to a similar question last year.
In 1998, Geahk attended the birthday party of a friend's boyfriend. He didn't know anyone there except his friend Sue. It was held at a strange little apartment in Berkeley, CA...it was decorated everywhere with rusty trinkets, old dolls, small animal bones & sixties rock posters. There were children toys from the 1950's and a lot of candles handmade and melted down to the stubs stuck to the fireplace mantle. The carpet had been scavenged from an old theatre by the landlord and was an insane tangle of curling vine patterns with red flowers.
What made the party special was that someone had loaned the host a video camera. They were all poor artists from poor backgrounds...Geahk had never used a video camera before then. BUT like kismet, they all realized at once that they had to use this opportunity...they set up the grey crate (coffee table) as the stage...a little teddy bear with strings & bic pens acted as a controled puppet while more & more objects from all around the house were gathered to create a whole cast of characters with an organically ad lib story line emerged.
The birthday boy was Dave Huckins and the rock posters were his. He had done posters for Phil Lesh, David Crisman, Widespread Panic and Stringcheese Incident. He was also a puppeteer with his friend Adam Bolivar back in Boston. The had a troupe together with Sue Kenney (now Newman), called, the "The Scratch Bros. Presto-Digital Phantasmagoria!" Dave invited me into the troupe for a play called "The Mermaid".
More than a decade later, Geahk can't shake his addiction to puppets and marionettes in particular. In his travels, he organized several small troupes with friends and artists. "Twisted Things" & "Skin & Bones", to name a couple.
He started The CastIron Carousel Marionette Troupe with Adam Bolivar in the winter of 2003 in the basement of a shared house in SW Portland. Their troupe has set a tone for a long series of strange, beautiful, gory and unsettling puppet plays for grown-ups.
Please visit Geahk's amazing Etsy site, where he has new designs every Friday! (OMG): http://www.etsy.com/shop/GeahkBurchill