Last week in New York City, Hamish Bowles, Nicole Miller, Simon Doonan and other fabulous guests gathered to celebrate the publication of Matthew Rolston’s new book Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits. Departing from his usual role as a celebrity photographer for magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar, Rolston went in a completely different direction for his first major personal project: ventriloquist dummies.
Rolston’s interest in the subject came about after he read an article in the New York Times about the off-beat Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, which is the world’s only institution dedicated solely to ventriloquism. He went to visit and soon realized that he wanted to photograph the dummies as if they were people, and he set up a studio at the museum.
“I don’t know much about ventriloquisum; it’s not even a particular interest of mine, but the faces were so amazing and I know faces, that’s what I do,” Rolston told DuJour at the event. “I had no thought except that I wanted to take these portraits. And I do call them portraits—they aren’t purely objects to me because they have incredible human energy as well. I photographed them as if they were people, and I think that comes through.”
Talking Heads is Rolston’s first fine art project, but people should expect to see more from the celebrity photographer. He said, “It was time in my life to do personal work, and now that I’ve gotten a taste for it, there’s definitely going to be more.”