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Theatre of Speaking Objects (2012), was presented in the lower section of Cockatoo Islnad (123, 124) as part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012). The project's title is inspired by a series of sketches for puppet theatre plays created by Czech architect Jiri Kroha between the years 1919–22 during his stay in a sanatorium in Kosmonosy where he realised performances for local patients and clinic staff. In his ‘Theatre of things’, performed often on and under a common table turned into a provisory stage, he gave life, words and characters to everyday objects.

Koťátková’s Theatre of Speaking Objects is composed from things through which their owners act and express opinions. Objects become mediators which borrow human voices and tell personal stories as well as literary narratives of human isolation, otherness and exclusion of those which do not conform to society's expectations. The theatrical method of speaking through someone or something refers to a situation when we are not able to personally and freely express our opinion, when there are others speaking for us, when people are being manipulated to certain roles and controlled by someone’s rules without the chance of actively directing their own lifes. The Theatre of Speaking Objects gives them a chance to, through this indirect communication, say words they would not be able to express themselves and, through this complicated manipulating of objects of personal use, tell stories of their owners, depicting the often difficult and seemingly desperate situation in which people can be.

Artist Statement
Theatre of Speaking Objects is inspired by a series of sketches for puppet theatre plays created by Czech architect Jiri Kroha during his stay in a sanatorium in Kosmonosy where he realised performances for local patients and clinic staff. In his ‘Theatre of Things’ he gave life, words and characters to everyday objects. My project uses pieces of furniture as well as other used personal items to speak for their owners. Objects become mediators that borrow human voices and tell personal stories as well as literary narratives of human isolation, otherness, oppression and exclusion of those who do not conform to society’s expectations. Based on the model of participatory theatre and with a group of participants, I develop series of scenarios, communication strategies and non-hierarchical relationships between actors and audience. These groups borrow roles of prompters, puppeteers or puppets, confessors, authoritative directors, passive coulisses. They perform on platforms that set different social situations to be elaborated. The theatrical (and therapeutic) method of speaking through someone or something demonstrates a situation when we are not able to personally and freely express our opinion, when there are others speaking for us, when people are being manipulated to certain roles and controlled by someone’s rules. The puppets are recreated from everyday items where objects represent real people. The theatrical wooden platforms take inspiration from concrete environments and situations to form a temporary and provisory rehearsal platform on which people practise for their integration into the outside world, as well as critically point to its dysfunctional aspects.

With special thanks to the City of Sydney Library Network for donating the books to this project.

Details

  • Title: Theatre of Speaking Objects
  • Creator: Eva Koťátková
  • Date: 2012
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist. This project is supported by the National Art School through its artist residency program
  • Type: Performance, Interactive/Installation, Audio Visual/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: mixed media installation, performance
  • Edition: 2012: 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations

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