Gastromancy

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Nina Conti, Her Master's Voice, 2012. Part of the curated screening programme Gastromancy by Sarah Browne, 2019, 90 minutes

Browne’s film, The Shambles of Science, speculates on feminist epigenetics, specifically looking to the history of the anti-vivisection movement, canine experiments, and the treatment of early suffragette campaigners in the UK. These campaigns feature striking images of muted, prone bodies (of dogs and women), being opened up or being force-fed. Browne’s new film probes at the political, vocal consequences of these generational stressors on the body.

Ventriloquist Nina Conti’s feature film, Her Master’s Voice (2012, UK, 64 minutes) is the focus of Browne’s programme for Process | Event by AEMI, where artists curate a film programme in dialogue with their own research. In Her Master’s Voice, internationally acclaimed ventriloquist Nina Conti takes the bereaved puppets of her mentor and erstwhile lover Ken Campbell on a pilgrimage to ‘Venthaven’ the resting place for puppets of dead ventriloquists. She gets to know her latex and wooden traveling partners along the way, and with them deconstructs herself and her lost love in this ventriloquial docu-mocumentary requiem. 

Her Master’s Voice is introduced through a series of short artist films and extracted broadcasts that explore the particularity of gendered speech, the inner voice of subtitling, and the magic of dubbing and synchronised sound on film. Featuring the voices of Nina, Mel [Baggs], Charlotte [Prodger], Mairéad [Farrell], and their proxies, Browne’s staging opens up the form of the film essay, exploring ventriloquism as both subject and method.

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Developed for the Process | Event series by AEMI, screened at Project Arts Centre Dublin in December 2019 & iaspis, Stockholm, 2020