Radical Ventriloquism: Acts of Speaking for & Speaking Through
13.03.20 – 19.04.20

We are caught, caught in a stream of floating heads: provocative faces preaching divisive politics and spewing universalist values as well as those who meme these voices through a satiric vernacular. One of our fundamental human rights is freedom of speech, the freedom to express ourselves in our own subjective manner. But in a spectacularly tense age, where the complexities of speaking are bound up with far wider socio-cultural politics the question as to how to represent a voice, to articulate a humanity and indeed an identity are constantly being redrawn, attacked, and marred. Is speaking for someone/thing or group always a provocative gesture, limiting their own humanity/identity? What if we redressed the terms of engagement? What if we spoke through, and communicated via wholly non-human or in-human means? What then?

Against this complex backdrop, KELDER is pleased to present the latest iteration of Lee Campbell’s ongoing project Radical Ventriloquism: Acts of Speaking for and Through. Ventriloquism, in its most common usage, refers to a form of popular entertainment consisting of performers giving voice to inanimate objects through a careful interplay between what is heard and what is seen. Within human beginnings – the court jester gaining power by speaking through his sceptre – ventriloquists today speak through their puppets as a way of ‘distancing’ themselves from criticism and ownership. But as Karen Harris reminds Campbell ‘it is always about who is telling/performing the joke, as issues regarding power and cultural identity are never far below the surface.’

Building on the 2019 conference stream, co-organised by Christabel Harley and Campbell, Radical Ventriloquism cuts Campbell’s experience as an Academic Support Lecturer, and subsequent research into the ethical tensions created when speaking for someone, out of the academic sphere and pastes this into an exhibitionary setting. Guest Curated by Campbell, the artists brought together use script, film and performance to alter perspectives. Through polyphonic coming-togethers, the project explores alienating processes, deadpan reproductions and power dynamics. In doing so it creates new narratives and introduces new adjacencies that question the position of power and autonomy in the complex notions of ‘speaking for’ and ‘speaking through.’

For the opening reception KELDER screened Lee Campbell’s HOW CAN I GET MY PARTNER TO BE MY FINGER? (2019), with contributions by: Alexander Costello, Lee Campbell and Claire Makhlouf Carter.


Thursday 12 March, 18:30–21:00
Screening of Lee Campbell’s HOW CAN I GET MY PARTNER TO BE MY FINGER? (2019), with contributions by: Alexander Costello, Lee Campbell and Claire Makhlouf Carter.

Tuesday 17 March, 18:30–21:00
Multiple-voice readings from Leap into Action: Critical Performative Pedagogies in Art & Design (Campbell, 2020) with contributions by; Laura Davidson, Peter Bond , Adrian Lee, Claire Makhlouf Carter, Cathy Gale, Lee Campbell, Pauline de Souza and Gustave J Weltsek.

Thursday 2 April, 18:00–21:00
An evening of intimate performances by Claire Makhlouf Carter, Adrian Lee, Alexander Costello, Lee Campbell, Hällsten and O'Neill and Victoria Ahrens.

Saturday 18 April, 15:00–18:00
A series of public screenings followed by a public discussion with artists/filmmakers participating in Radical Ventriloquism led by Lee Campbell with contributions by Beagles and Ramsay, Common Culture and Jake Shannon.

This project forms part of a series of collaborative acts where KELDER will work with artists, curators, educators, institutions and writers to take the role of guest curator in order to realise a collaborative project.
For this project KELDER have collaborated with Dr Lee Campbell (b.1978), an artist based in London working in performance and moving image. His recent film Let Rip: A Personal History of Seeing and Not Seeing (2019) has been shortlisted for the Queerbee LGBT Film Festival 2020 and How can I get my partner to be my finger? was awarded Special Mention at London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival Autumn 2019. An example of one of his previous curatorial projects is All for Show, (2005–2007, 2017), an internationally touring exhibition of short films made by British artists including Harold Offeh, Doug Fishbone and Juneau Projects that tested the acceptable limits of humour in the white cube art gallery using humour.