Speechcraft

Carey Young, 2007. Performance.

 

Commissioned by Modern Art Oxford. Subsequently re-commissioned by Creative Time, New York (2008), The Power Plant, Toronto (2009) and the Hayward Gallery, London (2012.)

Speechcraft features a meeting of the international public speaking club Toastmasters. Widely used by businesspeople as well as trainee lawyers and politicians, Toastmasters trains people from all walks of life to construct their public presence so that they look and sound like ‘leaders’.

Speechcraft is a performance work which takes a Toastmaster training session as a readymade performative situation. The artist inserts specific subject matter for speakers to respond to by giving an impromptu speech. The subject matter given to the speakers were all objects from Carey Young's studio which she personally finds inspiring. As with every Toastmaster meeting, all the resulting speeches were judged and evaluated by other Toastmaster members, as well as the audience, in a cycle of inspiration, review, and reward.

Each time the piece is staged it alters due to the unique contributions of the speakers taking part, the audience's reactions and involvement, and the inspirational objects from the artist's studio, a collection which grows and changes as she develops new artistic works.

Carey Young has written: “Speechcraft is in many senses an opportunity for the invited public to think about the relationship between art, artists and the public by presenting Toastmasters as a kind of alternative space of creativity, interpretation, ritual and critique.”