In 2003 I started performing live readings of well-known political speeches. These weren't impressions, they were my attempt to give myself over to someone else's rhetoric. I delivered them in my own normal voice, trying my best to believe and feel every word. What was striking was that, in almost every case, the words still had very contemporary resonances.

The author and content were not announced in advance, so the audience had to actually listen and be drawn in to my words and gradually figure out who was really talking. In today's soundbite culture, listening to a whole ten or fifteen minute speech with its gradual build up of rhetoric and internal narrative arc is also an interesting aesthetic experience in itself.

 

"This white, preppy-looking artist recited Martin Luther King's 1963 'I Have a Dream' speech. Presenting himself as a 'semi-subjective filter of news and witness to history', Wilsher managed with very simple means to create a heady complex of mixed emotions that alluded strongly to the present moment, and which had a leftfield bravery about it characteristic of the best of the show."

Martin Herbert, Modern Painters Nov '05