Erdem Taşdelen


Wild Child

Two HD videos
42' 05" and 20' 59"

Wild Child takes its inspiration from the story of Victor, a feral boy found in Aveyron, France in 1798. This story is told in detail in An Historical Account of the Discovery and Education of a Savage Man, a book written by a physician named Jean Marc Gaspard Itard who decided to look after the boy and make observations about his capacity to be rehabilitated as a member of society. He was convinced that he could “civilize” Victor by teaching him language, but the boy proved incapable of learning to speak, leaving Itard frustrated in his attempts to make Victor transcend his so-called savagery.

The premise of my project is the fabricated story of Joe: a story inspired by that of Victor’s, but taking place in our time, in British Columbia, Canada. It is imagined that this story will be told in a fictitious documentary, but Wild Child is not this documentary itself. The first of the two videos in Wild Child features twelve actors acting as though they are auditioning to play the three characters in this imagined documentary, and the second shows footage from the woods where Joe might have lived, were this story true.

These films satirically draw attention to the mechanics at work in the representation of fantasies about human nature, as well as undermining the claim to truth that such documentaries normally make. While the actors in the film are acting as though they are acting, the script also includes exchanges between the director and the actors, where dialogues that would normally be improvised are also scripted. In this self-referential manner, Wild Child aims to blend reality and fiction in a way that deliberately befuddles its viewer.

Wild Child was commissioned by the Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver in partnership with Cineworks and was supported by British Columbia Arts Council.

Installation view: Wild Child, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2017. Photos by SITE Photography.