A WORD IS A SHADOW THAT FALLS ON A LOT OF THINGS
You say that when you speak this language, you are a different person. or rather, you become one of the many that are your identities. The connection to your body changes, first to the inner life, your emotions and thoughts, as well as how you address and behold your surroundings.
Is it dependent, at the level of society, on the language’s heritage, at the level of the individual, on your ties to personal experiences? The question is how language defines identity and vice-versa. How can this correlation be shown, challenged or shifted?
To project identity (on to the model). To make up one’s own by referencing others. To create an exclusive identity by way of a secret language. Or to invent a new language defined by the personal. To split identity and allow for multiplicity and ambiguity. To hide behind or take on another(‘s). Or to aim for featurelessness altogether. It carries with it the matter of perspective, which is one of inclusion and exclusion, Of the self and the other. How to be oneself without shutting out others, how to open up to others without losing oneself?
If, as you say, the south is the body, the projected place of desire, the image of light and life and warmth, and the north is the head, the image of death and darkness and freezing – these binaries are the restrictions to grapple with. Accepting existing paths of identification, predetermined and prescribed, can trap and imprison. To find representation for the ideas to manifest, in form and materiality. Now they take space, as does the shadow: Body and other and changing but bound. The simultaneous existence of many. Like the Möbius strip, which has only one boundary, there is no outside and no in.
‘I see a ring,’ said Bernard, ‘hanging above me. it quivers and hangs in a loop of light.’
‘I see a slab of pale yellow,’ said susan, ‘spreading away until it meets a purple stripe.’
‘I hear a sound,’ said rhoda, ‘cheep, chirp; cheep chirp; going up and down.’
‘I see a globe,’ said neville, ‘hanging down in a drop against the enormous anks of some hill.’
‘I see a crimson tassel,’ said Jinny, ‘twisted with gold threads.’
‘I hear something stamping,’ said louis. ‘A great beast’s foot is chained. it stamps, and stamps, and stamps.’
‘Look at the spider’s web on the corner of the balcony,’ said Bernard. ‘It has beads of water on it, drops of white light.’
‘The leaves are gathered round the window like pointed ears,’ said susan.
‘A shadow falls on the path,’ said louis, ‘like an elbow bent.’
‘I burn, i shiver,’ said Jinny, ‘out of this sun, into this shadow.’
Virginia woolf, the waves, 1931
Text by Geraldine Tedder
The exhibition is supported by Futurum Stiftung and Stiftung Temperatio.
Jan Hofstettler accompanies this project on behalf of the Ausstellungsraum Klingental.