Photos by Alice Jacobs and Pavel Otdelnov
Performer: Sarah Duffy
5 minute performance, performed in both gallery and site-specific contexts.
The roots of this performance lie in my fascination with the art of ventriloquism, particularly with ventriloquism’s beginnings away from its modern incarnation as a variety act that makes use of a dummy. Instead, i'm concerned with the practice of belly speaking, or speaking without movement of the lips, which extends far back throughout various religions and spiritual practices, chronicling the complex relationship humans have had with the voice over time.
Women were particularly associated with the practice at its beginnings. Like The Pythia, The Oracle at Delphi, many women who were engaged in spiritual and necromantic practices utilised illusion, cunning and trickery alongside the practice of belly speaking. Their bodies were seen as supernatural vessels, a view that obscured the fact that these women were employing their beings as powerful performative instruments.
Fascinated by the history of these lauded and yet often vilified female figures, I set out to learn this discipline for myself. Enjoy The Silence is a live ventriloquist performance of Depeche Mode's seminal song of the same name; a song that, despite its lyrical eloquence, attempts to persuade the listener of the violence and uselessness of words. It has been staged in a variety of different enviroments, including a former interrogation chamber, an old office block in Moscow (turned Art gallery) and a five star hotel room.