What is Banners & Cranks?

Banners and Cranks is a festival of performances in the cantastoria style, which includes paintings on flip-over banners, sung narration, and pictures that move utilizing a crank mechanism, all of which trace their roots to the ancient practice of picture story recitation. Picture-story recitation in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Originating in 6th Century India, this religious and then increasingly secular practice evolved as it spread both east and west. The diverse versions of the practice which appeared in Indonesia, China, Japan, and across the Middle East and Europe came to include instrumental music, puppets, props, broadsheets and booklets, as well as the central printed, painted, embroidered, and/or otherwise decorated narrative images. Various forms of picture-story recitation continue to be practiced today in Iran, Turkey, India, and Indonesia. Recently there has been a revival of interest in picture-story performance among artists, puppeteers and activists in the West, who find that this ancient form has startlingly modern qualities and can easily be infused with fresh content. Banners and Cranks is a festival that celebrates this art form, and showcases the diversity and richness of contemporary practice here in the U.S.

One response to “What is Banners & Cranks?

  1. Would you say that flannelgraphs could be argued to be a type of cantastoria?

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