Ventriloquism is a short cautionary tale I penned in 2001. For 52 ACTIONS I have punctuated the text with appropriate or otherwise images from my repertoire.
Working predominantly in photomedia, Pat Brassington is recognised as one of Australia’s most highly respected and pre-eminent artists. Over nearly four decades she has developed a singular practice that draws on ideas from psychoanalysis, feminism and surrealism, consistently producing visually and psychologically intriguing work.
Brassington was awarded the Australia Council Award for Visual Arts in 2018 and in 2017 was the recipient of the inaugural Don Macfarlane Award for her contribution to the visual arts. In 2016 she was awarded the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize and in 2013 the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize. Solo exhibitions include Pat Brassington: The Body Electric, AGNSW (2016); Pat Brassington: A Rebours, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2012) and touring Australia and New Zealand; Pat Brassington, 10 Cubed Gallery, Melbourne (2012); In Search of the Marvelous, CAST Gallery, Hobart (2012); Pat Brassington, Lönnstrom Art Museum, Rauma, Finland (2008); and Pat Brassington: Works in Progress, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne (2002). Her work has been presented extensively in national and international group exhibitions and is held in all major national, state and university collections throughout Australia. Brassington is represented by Arc One Gallery, Melbourne and Bett Gallery, Hobart.
Just now I’m thinking about ventriloquists; those who practice the art of delivering sounds in such a manner that they appear to be uttered by another person or object.
Playing at animating objects appeals to me. To give an old battered doll a voice implies imagining just what those perished lips might say. It’s a small voice so listen intently … ‘Life’s a shit.’
Artworks can be stages for a play in which china chats and Barbie dolls and kids in prams, Mars Bars, Melting Moments and once-worn shoes converse with your words. Artists are ventriloquists; as the shiny red pedal car and the smooth-skinned sex vibrator chorus, ‘get it all happening’.
The ventriloquist imagining what comes out of the mouths of babes and giving mouths to the disadvantaged in-animates; what the world needs now is more ventriloquists. Hold it. Ventriloquists in their thousands are indeed on the march. Department stores have shelves and racks full of examples. They are jamming the airwaves, clotting our dreams. Giving out ticks to elite sports. They are beguiling you with their superficial smiles as wide as watermelon slices, and, they all seek to speak to you.
And every two bit politician starts with “What the Australian people are telling us is …” or “what the population undoubtedly wants is …” or “This is, or is not, the Australian way …” These true knights of the realm are ventriloquists par excellence, all speaking out of my mouth as if I was some battered doll without a voice of my own.
When I come to think about it, to answer the question “what the world needs now” requires a major act of ventriloquism. My voice just won’t carry.
Weighting is an animated flipbook presentation comprising a small selection of works from 1984–2020 that illuminate in varying degrees the sentiments penned in the accompanying text.