Rachel Perry, Karaoke Wrong Number, 2001-04. Single-channel video (color, sound; 6:52 minutes). The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Gift of Sheryl Marshall and Howard Salwen. © Rachel Perry
Rachel Perry engages with the traces of the everyday in her multidisciplinary practice, which involves the artful accumulation of receipts, packaging, and phone recordings—materials, in other words, meant to be discarded. For Perry, these ephemeral materials provoke profound reflection on the chance encounter. When first presented as part of the ICA’s 2006 Foster Prize exhibition, Karaoke Wrong Number enthralled visitors with a humorous and thoughtful meditation on human connection through the missed or accidental phone call. Perry created this work from a series of saved phone messages left in error on her telephone answering machine. Compelled by the urgency and expectation she detected in the recordings, Perry used a digital video camera and audio recorder to film herself lip-synching the messages with expert mimicry. Playful and familiar even as it borrows motifs from a time that already feels long past, Karaoke Wrong Number continues to recall the simultaneous connections and disconnections of social life, becoming a poignant account of our current times.
Continuing to receive wrong messages in the subsequent years, Perry made a second version of this work, which is available for viewing on the artist’s website.
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