Pro Helvetia Studio Residency, Atelier Mondial, Basel, 3 April-30 June 2019
Aya drew this illustration for me of what competition in the art world looks like (16.) initially she made a cone shape with the paper and drew ascending symbols on it to reference an upward movement of artists towards a single point (the sign of success to be on top). When she flattened the paper it, the symbols appear to be randomly moving towards a single point. This diagram also illustrates for me Derrida’s language with an itinerary: the structure of the cone is the national identity or, in other words, the national ideology, which sustains the structure/ the single narrative of a language in history. When the paper is flattened, there is no longer an itinerary or, more precisely, no logical movement towards ‘up’: the structure doesn’t exist. For him, there are only target languages [langues d'arrivee] , if you will, the remarkable experience being, however, that these languages just cannot manage to reach themselves because they no longer know where they are coming from, what they are speaking from and what the sense of their journey is. Languages without an itinerary and, above all, without any superhighway of goodness knows what information. - Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other, p 62. The film, Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979), is set in a prohibited area, called The Zone, which has been allowed to become overgrown with nature due to its prohibition to people. The area is described as being hit by an invisible meteorite, mysteriously killing inhabitants. In The Zone, flowers don't have a scent. Things that are repeated:capital letters, words, birthdays, seasons, days, public holidays, times of day, phrases, years, train schedules, classes, religious ceremonies, breaths, routes, tones, looks, touches, gestures, symbols, spelling, mealtimes, calling, addressing, denying, locking, unlocking, reproduction, naming, ‘I cannot say ‘I’ in my mother tongue and still refer to myself’: In his essay, ‘The Monolingualism of the Other’, Jacques Derrida uses the term interdiction to refer to his experience, as an Algerian Jew, of not being allowed to say ‘I’ and still see the image of himself, while speaking in colonial french - the only language he knew. A nightmare scenario in which I am in my own home and yet this home is completely unfamiliar to me. Once I woke up during the midnight sun in Tromsø and yet, there was no light outside. I walked through my home, which was thick with darkness, and finally realised that I was fast asleep, upstairs. The ‘upside down’ in the Netflix original, ‘Stranger Things’, is a useful illustration for this place. A pidgin language is a language which can develop in contexts of labour and/or trade. Most commonly, it is known to have developed during the period of colonialism, where different groups of people were enslaved from across the world and brought to new land. They would not have shared a common language except that of the coloniser, i.e. French in Mauritius (aka Creole) or Pidgin English in the Caribbean Islands. It is a prerequisite to have a name on my birth certificate, which means that I am made subject to the law from birth. If I am not named, how can I be called? Islanding is the attempt to isolate the vocabulary of a formal language from given signifiers in order to free up its words for new modes of linguistic cognisance. Islanding is a process of counter-translation: repetition, alienation, abstraction, denial and blind optimism “The universal translator, therefore, absorbs or disperses alien otherness, projecting an anthropomorphic vision of the universe, reinforced by a supposedly universal reason, as natural or true...” (Bould, M. 2009, ‘Language and Linguistics’, in The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction pp. 228, New York: Routledge) I love this quote because it expresses how ideology is linguistic. What are the consequences of disagreeing with universal reason - of not being able to be named? If we think of science fiction films, i.e. Mars Attacks, we can identify with the sublime fear of not being able to communicate with the aliens because, inevitably, their refusal to transparency, their otherness, becomes a threat to life on earth.Diglossia /daɪˈɡlɒsiə/ is translated from Koine Greek to mean ‘performing/speaking’ ‘two languages’. The term applies to a single community that speaks two languages: one colloquially and the other, formally.Depending on the region, Tsotsitaal will be based on one locally spoken language, i.e. isiZulu, sePedi, isiXhosa, while adopting elements of Afrikaans and English - the dominant languages of Apartheid South Africa. The name of the language translates to ‘criminal language’, which is more an indication of how it was perceived by, for example, white Afrikaaners who did not have access to the language.[T]he self’s opacity for the other is insurmountable, and, consequently, no matter how opaque the other is for oneself, it will always be a question of reducing the other to the transparency experienced by oneself” (Glissant, E. 1997, Exile Errantry, p. 49, USA: University of Michigan Press).