The lost paracosmist

The lost paracosmist is an animated short film by multimedia artist Josephina van de Water. Using digital photography, printed celluloid film, paint, digital scans, video montage, cardboard and extreme patience, she brings a fictitious world to life in fascinating detail. The film was made in the traditional, time-consuming way that requires particular dedication, with each frame individually hand coloured as was done in the first colour movies.⁠

The imaginary island of Paperland is inhabited by a colourful collection of talking animals. Josephina van de Water wrote and narrated the dialogue, giving each animal its own voice, tone and place in her universe. The chronicle guides us through a logical, yet fictitious, tale, in which we learn about Paperland’s geography, history, language, culture and religion. ⁠

As in every good fable, imagination is closely accompanied by reflection. While The lost paracosmist focuses on the irresistible charms of storytelling, it also warns the audience to beware of stories. They have the power to contort our perception of the world and disturb our relationship with reality.⁠

The endearing cardboard animals in their warm, glowing colours, and the gentle, motherly voice of the narrator, are reminiscent of children’s programmes. However, the topics covered in this allegory are anything but childish: territorial disputes, political and religious authority and mechanisms of exclusion and esteem all make an appearance, allowing inequality and frustration to creep into this seemingly safe cosmos. ⁠

- Geert Goiris⁠

Selection of film stills

Research films on pretend play

Paper sculptures