“But how about the voice?” she inquired.
“Oh, I am a ventriloquist,” said the little man.
“I can throw the sound of my voice wherever I wish,
so that you thought it was coming out of the Head.
Here are the other things I used to deceive you.”
F. L. Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw
in his face, I got the impression
that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word.
From N. Chamberlain’s speech at the House of Commons, 28 September 1938
Maybe what fascinates me of images is the very possibility
to not control them all the way.
I don’t exactly know why, but it always seems to me that images never belong to someone but, rather, they are near at hand, at everyone’s disposal.
Maurizio Cattelan, Lectio magistralis
In the end of her famous story Dorothy comes to Oz and, when her wish is about to be granted, she discovers that her wizard is a fake wizard and a real artist: a ventriloquist, skilled at air and hot-air balloons, illusions and other inexistent things. The alternate appearances of the wizard – the big head, the beautiful lady, the fierce beast – show themselves to be fictitious and mendacious. But were they really a fraud?
If we wanted to give this wizard a face, and grant an instant appearance to his unmasking, maybe, more than an image, we would need a gap, a trace, a strip of his possible and mysterious aspect. But this snapshot would be as long as the story that produced it or was produced by the image, as long as the whole tale that seals it and is sealed by it.
The Wizard, the story’s undiscussed protagonist, author of the work’s deceit and reality, maybe is its first and only client: a slight little figure drawn from some Baroque altar pieces, on his knees, cruel and pious, a three-dimensional ghost stolen from history or history of art, an ambiguous little statue removed from a more majestic, but yet invisible, civic monument.
A movie on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is projected on a big screen placed on the stage.
Underneath it, at the centre of the scene, the figure of a little dictator-director, obsessed by the movie, incessantly dubbing it, arrogating all the roles and the whole sound to himself: voices, music and sound effects.
The comic quality comes out from the impossibility to actually dub everything and, therefore, from the necessity to select each time the parts and situations to be given voice to. It’s as if the little dictator-director was „spoken“ by the movie.
He properly fits different modalities to his voice for each and every character and event in the movie, in an exhilarating performative mixture on one hand exalting the movie’s events, coup-de-scènes and words, on the other hand offering the vitality of theatre’s modalities and rhythms.