Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Wooden Hands

When a friend posted the above photo on facebook, my inamorato's comment made me laugh and laugh:
this made me laugh until the tears rolled down my cheeks. It's like the ventriloquist is unaware that his doll has turned into a monster
I was dying of curiosity. Who was this ventriloquist and his monstrous dummy? Was he successful? Did people run out of theaters and music halls screaming? Did the ventriloquist wake up one dark night with his dummy's small wooden hands around his throat?

Sadly, these questions remain unanswered. But I did find out about the photographer. It took a little digging, as the photograph was posted without a source. The photograph belongs to the collection of the National Museum of New Zealand and was taken by a photographer named William James Harding in 1870. He came from an English, working class family and emigrated to New Zealand in 1855 with his wife in the hope of bettering himself. It sounds as if he definitely had an artist's soul. He loved photographing landscape, but people don't much care about landscape photography (Ansel Adams notwithstanding), people want portraits. So, he begrudgingly took pictures of people, but his fury at having to do so was apparent. He didn't retouch or light his subjects in order to make them look better, he had no business sense of any sort. He just wanted to take pictures of the gorgeous and wild country he found himself in, thousands of miles from the place of his birth. Poor William.

We still have no idea who this ventriloquist with the monstrous dummy is. Just some itinerant carney, taking advantage of Harding's cheap rates? Or something far more sinister?

We can only wonder.


Sandy -- As Told By Mommy said...

Super creepy! I found your blog gooogling Evelyn Nesbit...and was looking at your other posts. Very interesting blog...and say...I think this creepy vantriliquist looks like Val Kilmer...haha!

TiTaN said...

Solved! :D

Caviglia said...

Sadly, there is really no new information in the link you provided in addition to what you can find in the archive I've linked to above.

Unless you have further information you are keeping to yourself, the question of who the subject is (Carny or Sorcerer) remains unsolved.