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Octopus 19: Ventriloquy: Review


Juliff, T, Octopus 19: Ventriloquy: Review, Art + Australia, July (2019) [Review Single Work]

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The 17th century English diarist John Evelyn described a party at a friend’s house in which the host played a cruel trick on his guests. Constructing a hollow statue, the host attached a concealed hose allowing a servant to speak through the statue from a great length. The effect on the guests was, by Evelyn’s account, both humorous and horrifying in equal measure. Such dark entertainments interest Joel Stern, curator of Ventriloquy (Gertrude Contemporary). With a cultural history rich in comic abuse, the practice of ventriloquism is vaudeville in its origins. The ‘vent’—often the straight man to the wry and witty dummy—deceives, distracts, and divests. The ventriloquist is a confidence artist, diverting attention away from the twittering lips, diverting us to their more outrageous wooden ego-child. Charlie McCarthy, the urbane tuxedoed dummy to the dry Edgar Bergen; Archie Andrews, the naughty schoolboy to the dull Peter Brough; and my personal favourite, the abrasive and abusive Charlie Brown to the mute Arthur Worsley. Ventriloquism is much more than the practice of vent and dummy, and Stern imagines the art of the vent as an extended metaphor for a broad range of social, cultural, and political distractions. Imagined as a set of strategies employed by a range of artists to animate the object (Simon Zoric, Ceri Hann), dissect the bureaucratisation of voice (Eric Demitriou, Danielle Freakley), and dark humour Ventriloquy explores new contracts of consensual self-deception.

Item Details

Item Type:Review Single Work
Keywords:contemporary art, creative approaches to law, ventriloquism, sonic art
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Art history, theory and criticism
Research Field:Art criticism
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies
UTAS Author:Juliff, T (Dr Toby Juliff)
ID Code:134752
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Art
Deposited On:2019-09-03
Last Modified:2019-09-05

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