With an extreme economy of means, Teatro de sombras, by the Argentine artist Jorge Macchi, narrates a violent encounter between two representations of hammers, each one rendered in gouache on paper. We do not see what destroys the painted images, only that they are destroyed incrementally. Their mutual obliteration is accompanied by the sound of one hard object striking another, the source of which has been edited out of the video. The scene as a whole handicaps our ability to confirm via sight and hearing what we believe to be true, triggering a crisis of knowledge. Macchi’s "teatro de sombras" is a sly twist on an ancient tradition known as shadow play or shadow puppetry, a form of storytelling practiced for centuries in disparate parts of the globe. Shadow puppetry originated in China during the Han Dynasty (202 b.c.–220 a.d.) and spread west by way of conquering armies. The earliest forms of shadow theater drew on the teachings of Buddhism, but they also narrated tales of past and present military adventures.
"Acquisitions of the Princeton University Art Museum 2009," Record of the Princeton University Art Museum 69 (2010): p. 51-85.