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Reflections on Language

24.2. - 20.3. 2022

Reflections on Language is a collective exhibition curated by Itzel Esquivel as part of the collaboration between Kunstplass and HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival 28 February – 6 March 2022 Oslo.

The festival artists in 2022 are:
– Maritea Dæhlin / / video-performace “I want to be traditional”
– Carol Cervantes // videopoem and text “L-E-S-B-I-A-N-A. De la L hasta la A [L-E-S-B-I-A-N. From L to A -for its spelling in Spanish]”
– Montserrat Llampallas // Publication-Installation “Correspondences”

Reflections on Language is a collective exhibition presenting and premiering artworks from three artists who share a strong relationship with Abya Yala (meaning “land in full maturity”, a term used by the people of Tule-Kuna for what is known as the American continent). The artists live in vastly different geographies, but come together to share a space at Kunstplass and to present their thinking around language, discussing further how it has been instrumentalized in politics, border controls as well as in the constructions of identities based on translations that reinforce the binomy us/them. Moreover, this exhibition brings to the table strategies where language offers a tool for processes of unlearning, as well as how it can be re-appropriated into re-defying, and re-imagining alternative ways of organising and connecting communities.

Maritea Dæhlin's installation I WANT TO BE TRADITIONAL (2017), (2020), (2020), and (2021) consists on a powerful audio work and three video performances, that, according to Dæhlin, “it’s a work attempting to push the boundaries of the understanding of the self as a layered and fluid being, continuously moving in all directions''. The installation consisting on an audio-work based on three poems and three video performances that shows – as Dæhlin states – an “ongoing investigation to transform text into action or into a poetic and visual world without words'' in a beautiful, intriguing, and empowered manner, where as a viewer it’s almost impossible not to feel Maritea’s performance in the gut and the throat.

With the installation Correspondences, Montserrat Llampallas, reflects on language and body, investigating how the drawing of words or written language can be deconstructed down to simple gestures on paper. These are then re-translated into gestures for the body, in a negotiation not only between the drawing and the body but also between the new meanings that emerge from the body of the performer, where the body speaks up, and reinvents its own translation of the suggested gestures.

L-E-S-B-I-A-N-A. De la L hasta la A [L-E-S-B-I-A-N. From L to A -for its spelling in Spanish] (2021) by Carol Cervantes is a poem about a word that has been stigmatized to the point where it is even difficult for some LGBTQI+ communities to use it, Cervantes brings the word lesbian to the center and tells us about the word’s importance, autonomy and disobedience of patriarchal and heteronormative system.
Cervantes’ approach brings a cuir [queer] perspective into the dialogue created within this exhibition.

As a side note, it seems relevant to explain further the urge of writing cuir as a way of phonetically re-appropriating the concept “queer” to the Spanish language, but not the colonial Spanish language conservated by the Real Academia Española (The Spanish Royal Academy, funded in 1713, has the mandate to look after the preservation of the genius within the changes that the Spanish language suffers and that has denied the use of they/them in substantive and pronouns), but the Spanish language spoken in Abya Yala that enables queerizar [queering] the queer concept through the spelling “cuir” as a way to disobey the Real Academia Española, and thus, a way to disobey heteronormative systems.

The second piece by Carol Cervantes consists of a project called “Departamento de Serenatas Poéticas” [Department of Poetic Serenades], a “sonic-poetic-affective and relational experience that invites radical listening and offers a moment of pause in this dizzying world” in Cervantes’ words. The viewer can choose from 15 coupons, each valid for a free serenade. The project also enables people to dedicate a poem to someone in a gesture of radical love where language reunites people in an old-fashioned way, using a phone call as a tool.

This exhibition is part of an ongoing research and reflection on language driven by the urge to look for new ways of thinking with un-learning methods that challenge heteronormativity, in order to re-imagine alternative ways of organization, communication, and coexistence.

Kunstplass is collaborating with HUMAN international documentary film festival for the 11th year in a row.

See full HUMAN´s full program.






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