Stretching the Truth

Schuppli, Susan. 2018. Stretching the Truth. In: "Stretching the Truth", Ian Potter Museum of Art, Australia, 28 July 2018. [Performance]

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Item Type:

Creators: Schuppli, Susan
Abstract or Description:

Join UK based artist Susan Schuppli for a performance | lecture where she plays the part of Richard Nixon’s secretary at the time of the Watergate scandal.

“Next to a man's wife, his secretary is the most important person in his career. She has to understand every detail of his job; to have unquestioning loyalty and absolute discretion. On every count Rose measures up. I'm a lucky man”. — Richard Nixon, 1957

At some point during the evening of June 20 1972 a conversation between two men was secretly taped using cheap lavalier microphones and a tape recorder set to run at an irregular speed. The result was a tape of degraded sound quality produced under deficient recording conditions. Of the more than 3,700 hours of audio confiscated from the Oval Office, Tape 342 remains by far the most infamous. Not because of the shocking information it contains, but because of its absence: 18-1/2 minutes of missing audio. The tape-gap occurs during a rambling conversation between Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman just three days after the break-in at Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.

When news of the tape’s potential tampering was made public, Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods took responsibility for this breach in the historical record. Under cross-examination in a federal courtroom, she told a rather confused story of how she might have made “a terrible mistake” and been partially responsible for the glitch. Woods claimed that while she had been transcribing and typing the conversations of 20 June 1972, the telephone suddenly rang causing her to press the wrong pedal on her foot-controlled UHER tape recorder, which she was using for purposes of playback, resulting in the erasure. Forensic acoustic analysis would ultimately overturn her testimony.

Official URL:
Departments, Centres and Research Units: Visual Cultures
Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture
Date range: 28 July 2018
Event Location: Ian Potter Museum of Art, Australia
Dimensions or Duration:
45 Mins.Duration
Item ID: 24011
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2018 14:52
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2018 14:52


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