For his film Cloacinae Onnen (1965) descends into an unknown, dark, but crucial world which is completely hidden from our view, a man-made structure no civilization can do without but which we don’t like to know about: the sewer. He has created a shadow puppet film set in the effective organisation of this invisible world. Cloacina was the name of the Roman goddess who presided over Rome’s first sewage system, in effect the first sewer known to western civilisation.
Early in 2014 Onnen was working with a group of puppeteers in Taiwan and China. They cut puppets from animal skins following his designs which he then used in his film. In the Chinese tradition, only the shadows of these puppets are visible, without any backdrop. The shadows of the puppeteers are likewise invisible. Back in Amsterdam he created film sets consisting of melting ice together with animator Sverre Fredriksen in which the puppets were manipulated and filmed.
Here more informaion about the creation process of Cloacina.
Serge Onnen (Paris 1965) Studied at Rijks Academy and teaches at Rietveld, also in Amsterdam.With a broad creative repertoire, Onnen is an artist of cross-disciplinary caliber. In the past 20 years, he has integrated different media in his work including animation, wallpaper, shadow, books and sound. Onnen is particularly interested in using pre-digital methods to create sequential images. He feels that visual communications prior to the digital boom are simple yet fascinating. Such as the outdated early Western animation device, the phenakistiscope (invented in 1829) using one single image to create a dazzling animated effects. One of the main subject in his work are the many different meaning of value in society and economics, causing continues confusion and conflict. This is for example embodied by smallest of all currencies; the cent. A returning object in his most recent projects, such as the book The Last Cent. Recently, Onnen has begun, after a period os study in China, to incorporate traditional Chinese shadow puppetry as a creative tool and element in his art.