Telfs is the most populated municipality in the Innsbruck Land district and it is situated about 28 kilometres west of Innsbruck. Telfs is probably best known for its marvelous traditional carnival, “Schleicherlaufen“, but it also nurtures many visual and theatrical artists. This walk through the fountain village clearly shows how art and the carnival are deeply embedded in the life in Telfs.
THE GRAND CARNIVAL: TELFER SCHLEICHERLAUFEN
Telfer Schleicherlaufen is a spectacular tradition and hundreds of people devote themselves to it wholeheartedly. However, it only takes place once every five years. While we still have a long wait ahead for the next carnival (in 2025), the Carnival Museum (Fasnacht Museumthree) is open times a week (free of charge) and invites its visitors to imagine or relive the unique Schleicherlaufen experience.
THE CARNIVAL AND LOCAL HISTORY MUSEUM (FASNACHT- UND HEIMATMUSEUM)
Cultural Center “Noaflhaus” is regarded as the treasury of the town of Telfs. It hosts the Carnival Museum (Fasnacht Museum), the Local History Museum (Heimatmuseum), two libraries, an exhibition space and an event hall. The refurbishment of the Carnival Museum in 2020 was a major upgrade since educator Walter Thaler and the committee set up the foundation of the museum.
Tradition is the stem of the carnival in Telfs, but the carnival does absorb innovative elements. Similarly, the Carnival Museum is “alive” as its collection expands after each carnival and new media were introduced to revamp its information conveyance.
In this renovation project, I was entrusted by curator Claudia Mark to refurbish all the mannequins. This was a dream job for me because I am not only an artist but also an ardent enthusiast of traditional carnivals (Fasnacht) in Tirol.
THE CARNIVAL CHARACTERS
The Carnival Museum is on the first floor. Just like the appearance order in the actual carnival, the Sun and the Heralds‘ information boards are presented first. From here, the carnival is already in the air — you can hear the bustling sound from the videos playing in the museum.
THE LATERNENTRÄGER (LANTERN CARRIER)
As seen in the picture below, the Laternenträger‘s original posture looked rather idle and the curator wanted a more dynamic Laternenträger. After all, his signature move in the carnival is spinning! I was authorized to replace the mannequin but I aimed to preserve as much continuity as I could. So the rigid sponge mannequin stayed — but had to go under the knife.
Basically, I treated him as a “soft sculpture”. I cut, rotated, wedged and fastened his torso and limbs. (I also dislocated a joint and clipped his fingers!) His eyes were repainted but his mood remained contemplative. The clothes were really baggy but with some hidden tweaks, the illusion of movement was achievable.
His outfit might remind you of clowns but the Laternenträger has nothing to do with them. He is actually a somehow solemn character in the carnival.
Behind him next to a portal stands the actual Sun and to the right are the information boards of the Musibanda and the Four Seasons. Further in the back, there is a colourful artwork made in 2014 by Prof. Heinrich Tilly which was titled “Große Telfer Papierfasnacht” (The Grand Paper Carnival of Telfs).
“GROSSE TELFER PAPIERFASNACHT” BY ARTIST HEINRICH TILLY
THE WILDEN AND THE PANZENAFF
The portal next to the Sun leads to the “tunnel” of the Wilden and the Panzenaff. Lift the little flaps on the wall to reveal their secrets!
The Wilden (Wild Men/Savages) wear wooden half masks and their costumes are made of tree beards (lichen).
At the end of the tunnel flanked by two Wilden is the hectic Panzenaff.
THE PANZENAFF REGAINED HIS ENERGY
I brought the Panzenaff‘s head home to work on it. Honestly, it was a bit creepy not only to travel with his head (carried in a bag) but also to lay it on my desk. The head seemed to be tailor-made and therefore, I left the structure as it was. The paint on the face, especially the white parts, must be retouched though. Using old carnival photos as references, I repainted the face and added wrinkle effects on the forehead to emphasize his dramatic facial expressions. I also made him a new pair of hands (under the original gloves).
THE BEARS AND THE EXOTEN
Across the media room, a stunning Bear is mirroring the pose of the Bear Driver. Their hypnotizing double act in the carnival has the elegance you don’t easily find in other villages’ bear routines.
THE VOGLER, THE BEASN BUAM AND MORE
Some groups and characters are represented in other formats in the museum. Although the texts are in German, the photos provide the visitors abundant information.
NAZ AND HIS FAMILY “LANINGER”
The scene of the “Nazausgraben” ceremony was reconstructed in the corner at the top of a ramp. This crucial ritual — not unlike an exhumation — marks the opening of every carnival period in Telfs.
For the museum refurbishment project, the carnival held in 2020 was a great opportunity to obtain photos with high resolution for large-scale printing. They compliment the museum collection very well in the new settings.
The name of the carnival, “Schleicherlaufen”, already points out which group forms the core of the procession. Their hats are super heirlooms. As the backdrop portraits here, the Schleicher members walk in a single line and perform their dances in a circle (Kreistanz).
I replaced the Schleicher mannequin by adapting parts from a now retired character. The paint on the mesh mask faded with time and therefore, I toned down the face features of the mannequin underneath to highlight the mask more.
PASSION, TALENT AND EFFORTS
As I mentioned above, Telfs is a town of artists. There are other hats and artworks around the theme of the Schleicherlaufen in the museum, but I am going to leave you to discover them yourself.
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Ichia Wu is a Taiwanese artist with broad experience in the tourism sector. Since relocating to Innsbruck, she has become an ardent enthusiast of the traditional carnival celebrations ("Fasnacht") in Tyrol.