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Lotte Reiniger’s World: A Stone’s Throw from the International Stuttgart Animation Festival

Lotte Reiniger's World: A Stone's Throw from the International Stuttgart Animation Festival

Stuttgart’s 20th International Animation Festival underway, animation fans in
Germany will have plenty to marvel at this week. Top prize money and a well-organized
festival attract quality entries from around the world. One of these prestigious
awards is the Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film, a 10,000 Euro film prize for the best student “graduation animated film” made at a higher ed institution.

present at the Festival in name and inspiration, Lotte Reiniger’s unbridled spirit
and lifelong dedication to silhouette art/silhouette animation can be more
fully experienced a mere 26 miles south of Stuttgart in Tubingen. This tiny,
picturesque German city’s Stadtmuseum
(city museum) houses the immersive, permanent and world’s largest exhibit of
Reiniger’s work. Centrally located in 
Tubingen’s beautiful Altstadt (old city center), the museum is a walkable distance from
the train station and close to restaurants and tourist attractions, which yes,
include a castle (
Schloss Hohentubingen)!

The World in
Light and Shadow. Silhouette cut-outs, Shadow Theater and Silhouette Film
is a
wonderfully designed, almost labyrinth-like tour through the lives and work of
Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) and her husband/cameraman/best friend, Karl Koch. When
Reiniger died in the neighboring town of Dettenhausen, the Stadtmuseum inherited a treasure trove of Reiniger originals,
including not only artwork and film prints but also clothing, photos, Lotte’s
book collection, ephemera about Reiniger and her films, illustrated diaries, personal
correspondence and much more.

The World in Light and Shadow offers
visitors an incredibly extensive collection of Reiniger originals: Exquisite
and complex silhouette cut-outs of all sizes, large silhouette theater puppets,
hand-made, hand-painted stages, set accessories, original drawings, book
illustrations, collages, silhouette figures from her animated films, film
posters, articles and accolades from countries around the world. The exhibit is
both an education and an adventure: Ample information is provided about Lotte’s
life and work while providing visitors with every thinkable way of experiencing Reiniger’s art and
artmaking/animation methods.

the entrance of the museum is a large light table, black paper, scissors and a somewhat
primitive line-tester. Kids & adults can try their hand at silhouette
animating any time the museum is open (Tues – Sunday, 11am – 5pm), for free. The museum
charges a mere 2.50 Euros/adult and 1.50 Euros for children over 12 ($3.25 and
$2, respectively).

exhibit is beautifully designed to encourage visitors to animate: One of Lotte’s
giant hand-painted stage fronts is elevated and set on tracks, enabling
visitors to “pan” it back and forth in front of large, glass-encased silhouette
figures, creating their own stage compositions with Lotte’s characters.
Scissors, black paper and overhead projectors enable anyone inclined to cut out
their own silhouettes and see them projected against white walls, which in turn
have their own giant, wooden silhouette figures on tracks that can be
physically pushed and pulled to form new silhouetted scenes. Screens are
interspersed throughout the exhibit, showing either Reiniger productions or
Lotte herself at work. One giant screen allows viewers to step between the
projector and screen, thus integrating their own silhouetted actions into
Lotte’s animation. A wall of drawers contain Reiniger surprises: One drawer
opens to reveal hand-drawn timing charts, another contains a storyboard, yet
another opens to reveal a movie about Lotte Reiniger, with a headset close at

timeline of Lotte Reiniger’s life, travels and work cover another wall and provide
rare glimpses of a confident, life-loving artist: Lotte the only-child with her
parents, Lotte smoking a cigar, Lotte with Karl in Egypt, sitting on a camel,
Lotte in long pants standing nonchalantly, elegantly in front of a fireplace… and
Lotte and Karl, clever enough to sidestep Hitler and spend many of the Third
Reich years in other countries: Italy, France, England.

trip through The World in Light and
is a trip through the world of a woman brimming with curiosity, creativity
and passion. A beautiful soul who loved teaching her art to people of all ages,
whose presence at the beginning of animation and lifelong commitment to
silhouette and silhouette animation emblazoned her stamp and influence forever
on our artform.

The World in
Light and Shadow
is in German, but english tours of the exhibit can be scheduled.
The exhibit contains such a wealth of fascinating visuals, that even without a
guide visitors will be simply awestruck.

are on sale at the front desk: Books (in german), DVDs and even a Lotte
Reiniger tote bag! Online sales can be found here.

Photos: Cathy Joritz, Stadtmuseum Tubingen

Cathy Joritz is an animator/filmmaker/artist currently teaching at the University of Kansas. She’s based in both  Germany & the US.


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