What is animation? (Ce Quoi L’Animation?).

This ambitious question is the title of an unusual and multifaceted expo organised in Sion, Switzerland, by the Fellini Foundation for Cinema.

Visitors will be able to admire the first optical games from the 19th century, the craft animations by masters like Emile Reynaud, Winsor MacCay or Emile Cohl and the golden age of animated cartoons called “industrial” (Cartoon and Disney).

It’s a unique cultural event that presents the history of a technique used for the graphic representation of movement – a technique developed even before cinema itself.

Animation takes elements from different kind of arts: the sculpture, the science of the movements, painting, design and graphics. For this reason, it is always able to reinvent something to astonish young and older viewers.

In the 1920s, thanks to designers like Otto Messmer, Tex Avery and the Fleischer brothers, the animated cartoon found its privileged way into Hollywood. In antithesis with the repetitive gags, the burlesque and violent characters, designers and producers at Walt Disney started to propose the first animation feature films dedicated to children and inspired by European tales.

This Golden Age of animation, however, ended in the 1950s with the spread of the TV as mass media, but also by the Japanese competition with its simpler and stylised animated drawings.

The expo in Sion is dedicated also to the stop-motion technique used by the Valais director Claude Barras who received two César Awards (Best Animated Feature and Best Adapted Screenplay), as well as an Oscar nomination this year for his film “Ma Vie de Courgette”.

In the room dedicated to Barras, the Swiss director will show the small nice characters who were protagonists at the Cannes Film Festival 2016. He will also present some interesting artwork from his next short film project.

Moreover, thanks to the partnership established by the Fellini Foundation in 2015 with NTU (Nanyang Technological University) in Singapore (where a major exhibition on the Maestro took place (Fellini the Circus of Light), Ishu Patel, a world-renowned Canada-based animation director and professor at NTU, will share his original works of his animated short film “Paradise” with the aim of illustrating the stages of making an animated film.

Patel’s inspiring short won an Oscar nomination and a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1985. His colourful works guide the visitor through a meticulous and time consuming process accomplished by an artist-craftsman.

The exhibition is presented at the cultural centre of the Fellini Foundation in Sion thanks to the cultural partnership with the New Museum of Biel, the Carouge Museum, Rita Production, Helium Films and School of Art, Media and Design (ADM) of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. During the exhibition period, the public will be able appreciate a collection of animation films by talented ADM students. NTU professors Ishu Patel and Hans-Martin Rall curated the kaleidoscopic selection coming from Singapore.

“The visual symphony of this exhibition has united artists from multiple horizons: Singapore, Canada, US, France and Switzerland, to stress to children and to those who still are in the spirit: Welcome in the fantasy world,” Stèphane Marti, President of the Fellini Foundation, told New Europe.

Nicolas Rouiller, Director of the Fellini Foundation’s cultural centre and curator of the exhibition, explained: “This expo interrogates, in a rather childish formulation, a technique of graphic representation of movement born even before the creation of cinema.”

In turn, Patel spoke about his work as film director. “Every time I make a film it has never the same creation because each concept requires a different kind of style so I make artistic choices based on the concept and the content of the story line,” he said.


Exposition C’est quoi l’animation? Panorama d’un art: du pré-cinéma à «Ma Vie de Courgette». Maison du diable Cinéma & Culture visuelle. Rue des Creusets 31, 1950 Sion Sunday 14 May to Sunday 24 September, between Wednesday and Sunday (2-6pm)