Drawing from LACMA's encyclopedic collection Not I: Throwing Voices (1500 BCE-2020 CE) shows how ventriloquism relies on the confusion between sight and hearing, puppeteer and puppet, silence and speech. Issues of agency, authorship, and objecthood are at the core of even the most conventional ventriloquist sketch: Where is the voice coming from? How is that voice split into many bodies? Who is speaking on behalf of whom?
Using this popular form of entertainment as a guide, the exhibition stages dialogues across LACMA’s collections, focusing on the misdirection of voice, silence, and sounds. Ventriloquism—objects forced to speak on behalf of an entire culture, age, or region—resonates within the history and logic of institutions devoted to disseminating knowledge, such as libraries and museums.
Favoring conversations among objects over singular masterpieces, Not I: Throwing Voices (1500 BCE-2020 CE) includes a special project by Meriç Algün in collaboration with the Los Angeles Public Library and commissions by Raven Chacon, Patricia Fernández, and Puppies Puppies.
This accompanying publication, Six Scripts for NOT I, features five commissioned texts written in the form of scripts for probable ventriloquist performances and a checklist.
Texts by Alan Page Arriaga, Darby English, Amy Gerstler, Sarah Kessler, Christina Catherine Martinez.