artists' book


Ventriloquist is an unusual book. It is not a novel, a book of poetry or a work of art; it is all three in one. The protagonist of this story without plot is a rebellious figure. Unabashed, he spews out his feelings from the pit of his stomach. He deals in obnoxious statements, while doubt has the upper hand. Masters are plentiful in this script: "I am the living podium upon which different actors walk." Until the curtain is lifted.

Translator’s note by Emily Williams

When I dust away the letters, I sometimes hear a faint accent buried behind the Dutch. It’s a muffled sound if I feel the original is Portuguese and sharp if I recognize a hint of English. This translation is back-to-front. I attempt to unravel the meaning behind the words, but as I dig deeper to uncover your intentions, I hit a wall (a rock).

The paragraphs have been cut away from their surroundings, from their left and from their right and I cannot see who is on the other side. I can only guess and I’m beginning to feel someone is making a fool out of me. I know some of you are over there, Pessoa, Machiavelli, Kafka. But which one of you said this and which one of you said that?

I lean up against the wall in my living room and we sit back to back.

How can I translate you if I cannot reach you, let alone do justice to your intentions? I wonder if alabaster is translucent or can I say see-through? No, dresses are see-through. Here words float around me clearly; on the radio, in the papers, on the computer screen, the one or two words dropped at my window by people cycling past. I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately. And then (suddenly) I remember, when I was a child we had an Italian vase at home made of terracotta. I knocked it off the windowsill onto the tiles and it smashed.

A book by Stijn Verhoeff
Translated by Emily Williams
Designed by Paul Gangloff
Printed and binded by Bariet
Published by Gneisspecker and tijdschrift Terras

Softcover, 196 pages, 10,5 x 17 cm
Text in English and Dutch

Edition of 300

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