American Folk Art Museum Logo

Special Events
18 Jul 2017

SOLD OUT - Screening of Dolls of Darkness: The Art of Michel Nedjar

What is a doll?

What is a doll?

It’s something strange.

It’s something in the shadows.

It’s something from the earth.

It’s something from the origin.

It’s something magical.

It’s something paternal.

It’s something forbidden.

It’s something from God.

It’s something distant.

It’s something without eyes.

It’s something animal.

It’s something birdlike.

It’s something silent.

It’s something eternal.

It’s something of mud.

It’s something of pebbles.

Something vegetal.

Something from childhood.

Something cruel.

Something joyous.

Something screaming.

Something mute.

That’s it!

—Michel Nedjar


Join us for a special screening of Dolls of Darkness: The Art of Michel Nedjar, a new documentary film by Allen S. Weiss and Tom Rasky. Followed by a Q&A with Allen S. Weiss and Valérie Rousseau, curator, self-taught art and art brut, American Folk Art Museum.

Dolls of Darkness is a feature-length film that explores the mysteries and profundities of dolls, puppets, and marionettes in the context of the grotesque rag dolls of contemporary French artist Michel Nedjar. It focuses on his studio and his vast collection of magic dolls and masks from around the world, and examines the role of the Holocaust in the artist’s creative process. Original music by Alex Waterman, Sasha Boychouk, and Brandon Besharah. French with English subtitles. 63 minutes.

Dolls of Darkness is a subtitled version of the original film, Poupées des ténèbres (2016).


More information:

Watch a trailer:


This special event has sold out. To be added to the waiting list, please email


Allen S. Weiss curated the show and edited the catalog Poupées (Dolls) at the Halle Saint Pierre in Paris. His object theater My Dolls has been performed internationally. Besides the three versions of danse macabre that he created with the dolls of Michel Nedjar, he has also directed Theater of the Ears (a play for electronic marionette and taped voice based on the writings of Valère Novarina) and produced with Gregory Whitehead L’Indomptable for France Culture Radio, as well as both Glissando (Hörspiel) and Radio Gidayū (soundscape/musique concrète) for the Klangkunst program at Deutschlandradio Kultur. He is the author and editor of more than forty books in the fields of performance theory, landscape architecture, gastronomy, sound art, and experimental theater, including Phantasmic Radio (Duke University Press); Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime (SUNY Press); Varieties of Audio Mimesis: Musical Evocations of Landscape (Errant Bodies); Zen Landscapes: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens and Ceramics (Reaktion Books); two culinary autobiographies, Autobiographie dans un chou farci (Mercure de France) and Métaphysique de la miette (Argol); as well as a novel, Le livre bouffon (Le Seuil). His work has been supported by Fulbright, Étant Donnés, and Japan Foundation grants, and he teaches in the Departments of Performance Studies and Cinema Studies at New York University.

Michel Nedjar was born in 1947 in the Parisian suburb of Soisy-sous-Montmorency to an Algerian Jewish father and a Polish Jewish mother. His discovery of the Holocaust, in which he lost several family members, occurred with the shock of seeing Alain Resnais’s film Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog), which inspired both his drawing and doll-making. Following his encounter with the work of avant-garde filmmaker Téo Hernandez, he began extensive travels in India, Morocco, and Mexico, became an avant-garde filmmaker (having participated in the group MétroBarbèsRochechouArt), and generally began his artistic endeavors. At the same time, he also was a cofounder of the major museum of art brut in France, L’Aracine, now part of the Lille Métropole musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain, et d’art brut (LaM). His work is included in the collections of many museums, including the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme (Paris), the Collection de l’Art Brut (Lausanne), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris), and he has regularly exhibited around the world, notably with retrospective exhibitions in Germany and Holland (Les Ongles en Deuil, 1995–1996), France (Chairdâme, 2001), Austria (animo.!, 2008), and Switzerland (animo.!, 2008–2009). A retrospective of his work is currently on view at Lille Metropole Musee d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut (LaM).

Tom Rasky is an independent filmmaker, animator, jazz musician, sound engineer, and visual artist. Following a career as a building constructor in Toronto, he has devoted himself to the arts. He was one of the lead producers of the award-winning film A People Uncounted (2012), the first full-length documentary concerning the fate of the Roma during the Holocaust, which has been featured in film festivals around the world and which was nominated for the Producers Guild of America Award. He has just completed production on the short animated film Journey to the Moon, as well as on the animated comedic short INC’d, for which he and his team have developed several new animation techniques. As a sound engineer, he has recorded many major artists in all genres of music on the Toronto scene, including work on several Juno Award winning albums. He plays weekly as drummer and percussionist in various jazz, funk, and rock bands.


Image: © Moon Illusion Productions. All rights reserved.

6:30 pm–8:00 pm

$5 members, students, and seniors; $8 non-members

Purchase tickets