taal-eh, 2015, video, sound, installation, text, Tromsø Art Academy, 2015.
[Taal-eh] (n.) (v.): ‘tale’ [taal sing.] ‘languages’ (Afrikaans). ‘Tale’‘speech’(Norwegian)
My artistic practice was cultivated within a Norwegian context, specifically around language, translation and non-sense. During my MFA, I used my position as an outsider to the Norwegian language to simulate another Norwegian - ‘taal-eh’ - a language which adopted elements of a pidginlanguage in its development. taal-eh is a language I imagine to operate as the uncannyof Norwegian. taal-eh is the point where speakers recognise a language as ‘their own’ and yet they cannot speak of themselves in that language.
taal-eh is the de-naturalisation of ideology from a “legitimised” language; it is performed through a process which i refer to as the islanding of a “legitimised” language from ideological discourse ( 1 ). to island a “legitimised” language is to alienate the rituals that enable its proliferation: speaking and writing ([1).
taal-eh uses norwegian as its host language. i collected a vocabulary from norwegian language films by repeating the words i heard spoken back to myself aloud while recording myself. these words would then form the basis of a new vocabulary, most of which was later both recognised – and not – by a norwegian audience: the first step towards islanding a legitimised language is to mispronounce its words – as a rule (3).
i then transcribed the vocabulary, phonetically, using english and afrikaans orthographies (the two languages in which I can speak and write). equally important in this process is the substitution of the signs of the language (4). during this process, it is vital to not fall into the trap of transference of power; i.e. subsequently privileging those with access to english and afrikaans, instead (5).
the final gesture in the islanding process is the alienation of the host language from all recognisable signifiers, which enable a language to have “meaning” and therefore also facilitate its translation into another language (6). the new vocabulary enters into a system of illogical, computerised signs,(7) which cannot be re-produced, both in speaking and in writing (8). the islanded language hence speaks itself for viewers, but does not offer an entry point (9). This work was presented as a room, which simulated a deprivation tank: it was pitch black and soundproof. The language was performed through screens (positioned at different angles and heights), individual speakers and in the vacuums between sound and moving image. The work performed itself over and over again: its effect was realised relationally, only, in participation with language speakers. The work affected itself in the same way that saying a word out loud to yourself many times over makes the word unfamiliar in your mouth .