Dr Aja Marneweck
NIHSS Specialist Artist in Residence
Aja Marneweck is an NIHSS Specialist Artist in Residence Fellow in the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects (LoKO) at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. Marneweck’s work engages the multimodal creative and discursive discipline of puppetry as an agent for transformative social, spiritual and cultural practices, as well as considering the unique lens it might offer radical contemporary creative practices in South Africa today. Marneweck holds the first South African doctorate in Practice as Research in Puppetry Performance entitled “Towards a Feminine Semiotic: Spiritual and Sexual Emergency in Women’s Puppetry and Visual Performance”.
She has received multiple grants, residencies, and research awards, including a postdoctoral fellowship in Anthropology at the University of Cape Town (2016) and a postdoctoral fellowship in the CHR at UWC in 2018. Marneweck is the creative director of the women’s animism and puppetry company The Paper Body Collective. Since 2014 she has served as the creative director of the Annual Giant Puppet Parade, a large-scale interdisciplinary public puppet arts collaboration (created in 2010 in partnership between the CHR at UWC, Net vir Pret, and the Handspring Puppet Trust), which takes place annually in Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. This is a unique collaboration that allows rural and urban publics and artists to use puppetry to engage complex issues of history, heritage, land, creativity, identity, power, access, and ecology.
Some of her most recent publications include
“Mobilizing a New Universal: The Walking art of Giant Puppetry” in Manip, Le Journal de la Marionnette, forthcoming 2021.
“The Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade: Mobilizing Creative Ecologies in the Klein Karoo, South Africa”, in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, James Thompson (ed), Taylor and Francis Routledge, 2019.