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Peter Walsh shares a laugh with two Ljubljana residents in front of Cankarjev dom at Trg republike on September 8, 2003.

 

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An on-site drawing at Pogačarjev trg by Deidre Hoguet that was annotated by various passersby in several languages including Slovenian, Albanian, Bosnian and Croatian. Part of her Ljubljanski slikovni slovar / Visual Glossary of Ljubljana. (Click on the image to see an enlargement of the photo. Click here to go to Deidre Hoguet's website for photos and a description of her part of Tongue:Jezik.)
TONGUE : JEZIK

Deidre Hoguet (USA), Peter Walsh (USA)

Center and Gallery P74
Prušnikova 74, Ljubljana, Slovenia

September 5, 2003 – October 7, 2003


(Two Photo Galleries are Located
at the Bottom of this Page)

    In September of 2003 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, English-speaking U.S. artists Deidre Hoguet and Peter Walsh created a series of street actions that focused on the relationship between languages and power. The project featured 13 separate performances, with each artist interacting directly with hundreds of people, a gallery exhibition at P74, artist lectures and two public discussions (one at the 16 Beaver Group in Manhattan and a second in Ljubljana). The English word “tongue” and the Slovenian word “jezik” can both - with slightly different connotations - mean either language or the actual tongue in your mouth.

    With the collective help of the citizens of Ljubljana, Peter Walsh attempted the impossible: learning to speak and write Slovene in just three weeks (photo gallery).

    Deidre Hoguet created a visual glossary of Ljubljana's various languages through a series of drawings of the city (photo gallery).

    Using a specially built Mobilna jezikovna šola / mobile language school (above, left) fashioned after carts used by certain New York City street vendors and corner evangelists, Mr. Walsh moved around Ljubljana’s centre city, eliciting responses on a variety of issues. The discussions took place in a mix of spoken and written Slovene and English, combined with picture-making. Each day’s performance included lessons such as dobra izgovarjava (good pronunciation), vocabulary such as čmrlj (bumblebee) and activities such as reading aloud from a 1977 book of Slovenian poetry called “Pa da bi znal, bi vam zapel”. Among the broader topics discussed were the history of the Slovene language, American foreign policy, relations with other nations from the former Yugoslavia, Slovenian regional dialects, the former communist state and current capitalist ideologies.

    While working on location throughout Ljubljana, Deidre Hoguet invited passersby to write words in their native languages for the objects in her drawings (left). The annotated images became a document of the different languages spoken in those areas of the city at the time, as well as a translation between those languages and the images depicted. Among the languages spoken were the obvious, like Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, Italian, German and English, and the unexpected such as Persian and Hebrew. The resulting pages were hand-bound into a glossary/guide to the city entitled Ljubljanski slikovni slovar / Visual Glossary of Ljubljana.

Some Background Information About the Creation of Tongue : Jezik

    As the English language has increasingly begun to function as one of the world’s most important lingua francas, it has frequently acted as a carrier of Anglo-American economic, cultural, and military power. Language itself has become a site of resistance, and Slovene, with only a few million speakers, is uniquely placed as a microcosm of this resistance.

    Over the past two hundred years, what is now known as the nation of Slovenia was at various points part of both the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Napoleon’s French Empire, was divided and occupied by the Germans, Italians and Hungarians and allied in government with Croatians and Serbians. At each point, access to status and economic advancement was connected to foreign languages.

    With the collapse of the Yugoslav federation and the establishment of the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovenian language is now at the center of the Slovenian people’s identity as a nation. Many of the streets, squares and monuments in its capital city Ljubljana are named after the great Slovene writers and poets such as France Prešeren and Ivan Cankar, legendary in Slovenia, but almost unknown to English speakers. And yet, even as Slovenia joins a new federation, the EU, the English language has become a “language of access.” As English-speaking U.S. artists, Deidre Hoguet and I hoped to engage the people of Ljubljana in a two-way dialogue about power and language in today’s world. We were richly rewarded for our efforts.

 
 

Public Discussions

“Languages and Power” - Monday Night in New York & Weimar
16 Beaver Group, Manhattan
ACC-Galerie Weimar, Weimar
July 28, 2003

Selected Readings & Discussion led by Deidre Hoguet and Peter Walsh at 16 Beaver Group in collaboration with Gallery P74, Ljubljana, Slovenia. A second group will meet at ACC-Galerie Weimar.

Topic Description: The Bush Administration’s “Coalition of the Willing” for the invasion of Iraq was in many ways a “Coalition of the English-Speaking.” Are we witnessing the re-emergence of a kind of Anglophone pan-nationalism? Were the American, British and Australian governments - “the willing” - really defining their joint interests by the following phrase: “Where English-speaking armies go, English goes, and where English goes, English-speaking business people go”? With the current climate in mind, we want to discuss two chapters relating to languages and the origins of nationalisms from Benedict Anderson’s well-known book Imagined Communities.

To see more info about the evening and the text, go to:
http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/000337.php

"Jezik in moč/ Languages and Power, Part 2"
Ljubljana,Slovenia
September 16, 2003

A panel discussion Including P74 Gallery Director and artist Tadej Pogačar and Moderna Galerija curator Igor Zabel, Ljubljana-based American writer and translator Rawley Grau and artists Deidre Hoguet and Peter Walsh.

Topic Description: Building on the "Languages and Power" discussion of July 28th, we will continue in Ljubljana by focusing on the relationships between working vernacular languages like Slovene or Lithuanian and expanding lingua francas like English, or more historically speaking, French or Latin.

 
Photo Galleries from Tongue : Jezik

Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Images showing Peter Walsh's performances with the
Mobilna jezikovna šola
(mobile language school)
 
Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Images showing the creation of Deidre Hoguet's Ljubljanski slikovni slovar / Visual Glossary of Ljubljana
 

Acknowledgements

    The Tongue:Jezik project was both a successful work of engaged public art and an extraordinary experience for Deidre and I as artists. We could not have done it alone. Our thanks go out to everyone who contributed, both in Slovenia and in the US. To Tadej Pogačar, our curator and a great artist, we are indebted for his friendship and his invitation to come to Ljubljana and create a new artwork at Gallery P74. His hard work and generosity were remarkable. Alja Mravljak, assistant curator, was at our side at every moment, helping us negotiate the ins and outs of Ljubljana. Rawley Grau, my good friend and colleague from Baltimore and now a resident of Ljubljana, gave us great insight on the Slovene language from a native English speaker’s perspective. Mojca Pungerčar and Marjan were also our gracious hosts while we were visiting. In New York, Tea Rozman-Clark primed me for the difficulties of Slovene with one-on-one tutorials. I wouldn’t have survived with out her help. And finally, thanks go out to Igor Zabel, Sašo Vrabic, Tanja, 16 Beaver Group, Helen Gyger and Satre Stuelke for their important contributions.

    Najlepša hvala.


All Content Peter Walsh 2004
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