Parting Friends is a scrolling shadow panorama or “crankie” that Old Excellent made for Concrete Cabaret, Toronto’s Experimental Puppetry and Performing Objects Cabaret. It is a single 7m long scroll, painted in India ink onto acetate.
“Our short performance consisted of Catherine Crowe and myself singing two hymns a cappella, while we projected the large transparency scroll onto a hanging bedsheet. It was created for an event on the theme of environmental crisis, so I based the piece on the Dance of Death iconography from medieval Europe. Accordingly, the songs are death-themed hymns from the Sacred Harp tradition. In the shadow of current events Parting Friends has acquired new meanings; for example, I note that the final image of a burning building is a quotation from Yakov Chernikov, the Soviet Piranesi, who happened to be born in Eastern Ukraine. Other texts in the scroll take quotations from medieval death dances, Hunger Stones (river-side graffiti from times of drought and famine), alongside my great-grandma’s habitual dinner-time quip: “eat, children, because one day you will be eaten”.”
— Old Excellent
Old Excellent (b.1968, Milan) lives and works in Toronto. He is active in drawing, painting, puppetry, theatre, and in both traditional and experimental music as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and instrument inventor.