The Wild Boy, 2005

Solo Exhibition (Performance, installation and video).
The Showroom Gallery, London.

This was a durational performance over six weeks during the Gallery’s five opening hours per day.
As a deaf person, I’m intrigued by the figure of Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron who was found living in the forests of southern France at the end of the 18th Century. Victor was captured and sent to a sanatorium to learn speech, which he resisted.

In contrast to Francois Truffaut’s film ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’, I wanted to consider Victor’s story from his position rather than his tutor, Dr Jean Itard’s.

Just as Victor was visited and gawped at by the fashionable elite in the late 18th Century, this six-week long durational performance came to focus on the Gallery visitors looking at me on the platform, often at length. I resisted ‘doing’ anything much beyond simply lolling around the platform scratching myself atop the itchy straw, effaced under a ‘Victor’ wig and wearing a filthy, torn shift.

In this passive state, my version of ‘Victor’ attracted an amazing range of responses from individual Gallery visitors who brought him fruit, sang and played music for him, attempted to join him on the platform, tried to engage him in play or conversation, and on more than one occasion, wrote letters of affection and love to him. Towards the end of the exhibition/performance some visitors returned regularly as if somehow (like Dr Itard) having adopted Victor for themselves.