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The story behind a photograph of puppets

Puppets used for political demonstrations seem to embrace on the shelf where they're stored.

Monitor correspondent Bina Venkataraman perfectly described Sara Peattie's Puppet Free Lending Library in Boston as mirroring "a world ... beyond C.S. Lewis's wardrobe or the Grimm brothers' trap door." I agree. Pho-tographing it was a dream – and a nightmare. Bare tungsten bulbs dangled in an uneven pattern beneath the low ceiling, pipes made crisscross patterns, and posts seemed strategically placed to block light from my flash.

I had seen these papier-mâché creatures at First Night celebrations on New Year's Eve. They are majestic in the twilight, gauzy material flowing from the wings of billowing birds while fantasy creatures sway above the parade.

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Seeing them up close took away some of their drama – until I came across what I'll call "the lovers." The way they had been tucked away on the shelf made them appear to be in an embrace. These two had not lost their animation in the musty basement.

I moved in closer to fill the frame with their faces. I hoped that I could capture the same liveliness these puppets inspire when they are raised above the heads of the crowds. Only this demonstration was about love and romance – a story older than puppet theater itself.


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