Horizontally Speaking

2021. Three-Channel multi-lingual text animation. Infinite phasing loop (excerpt)

     Horizontally Speaking is a three-channel video and deconstructed paper text installation. It both comments on the assumed hegemony of languages while also acknowledging the experience of a group of individual artists coming together to form a temporary household in Berlin. In our residency home, we originate from eight different countries and speak five languages and five dialects within overlapping languages. We are living in a multicultural neighborhood in the German city of Berlin—and we all speak English together. For some of us, English is a second or even third language. And still English prevails as the dominant daily language. Like a colonial power. Das ist aber komisch, oder?

Struck by the lacking presence of German language in the residency situation and consequently in the videos (whose first public audiences would be in Berlin), I cut each page of the German dictionary, Duden, from beginning to end with scissors. Each page cut into strips, two lines wide, and then pasted together, end to end, forming one continuous A–to–Z ribbon. This flowing strip is placed below the screens. The entire German language is both visible and present.

The questions, answers and phrases in these videos are all based on actual conversations that we had in the residency together. This installation aims to horizontalize the language powers, enabling multilingual conversations in which everyone can speak in their most comfortable language.

The three video channels loop endlessly. Each renewed playback syncs differently with the other two conversations than the previous time. The communication dynamics are always changing.