From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Posts Tagged ‘language

Natural Dyeing for Sukkah Project

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I’ve been invited to inhabit the Sukkah at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco) on October 8th for one day of the holiday of Sukkot.  They invited six artists to each take a day to create an open studio or installation project inside the frame of the Sukkah.  I decided to take the opportunity to do a new Participatory Installation piece within that frame entitled Refuge of Leaves.

Process

These are photos of the dyeing process for this new project.  These are the first three batches, using pomegranate dye, rhubarb dye and artichoke dye.  Each dye changes depending on if I scour the paper first, or if I add a mordant, or if I add iron.  I did every combination on four kinds of paper to get a wider variety.

As I’m going, I allow the paper to show some marks- wrinkles, the mark of the iron, irregularities, etc.  Showing their history, that they have been through something, a difficult process that may even damage them seemed like a perfect parallel to individuals seeking refuge, to people who had a story to tell.

About the Piece

Traditionally a Sukkah is a symbolic ritual space of refuge in the wilderness created for the holiday of Sukkot in the Jewish faith and tradition. “Refuge of Leaves” creates a Sukkah as a space for reflection where people from many backgrounds can reflect on and share their personal experiences of refuge from “wildernesses”, whether physical or metaphorical. As a Sukkah it symbolizes a liminal space of safety within the wilderness between worlds.

I followed traditional aspects of the Sukkah in using natural plant-based materials in the form of a variety of papers from different places and times, including papyrus as well as paper that could be put through a modern printer.  These are for participants to write responses to their choice of prompts on the subject of refuge.  I am hand-dyeing the papers with natural dyes to mimic the color range of plants one might build a traditional sukkah from. The dyeing processes also makes each piece of paper individual in color and texture, just like the people writing their responses.

The word “leaves” in the title functions in a number of ways.  The individual leaves of paper in a larger book, the plant leaves that form a traditional Sukkah, and the nature of a this kind of refuge as a temporary shelter (not a home) that eventually requires one to leave.  The structure is very literally a refuge made of leaves that each participant leaves behind.

As part of this project I will be there from 10AM until 4PM to discuss my work and facilitate the process.  Please join me.

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Identity Tapestry to show in Switzerland

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vkz_ueber20unsFrom the first iterations of Identity Tapestry I’ve been wanting to create it both in a museum space and in another language.  I’m pleased to announce that this May I’ll be doing both!  Identity Tapestry will be up as part of the upcoming show “Identity” for four months starting this May at the Vögele Cultural Center in Pfäffikon (just outside Zurich).

I will be flying out for the install and I’m incredibly excited.  Any iteration demands a look at which statements to include or leave or if new ones ought to be added, especially in a new area or situation. In this case the language use should be especially interesting because there are essentially two languages at work there: High German and Swiss German.  One is the official language which is used for nearly all text, the other is the language of intimate conversations and the inside of one’s own head.  Apparently it is only recently that the Swiss-German language has appeared in text, and then mostly in text messages, and only to very intimate friends.  How I approach these languages and navigate translations will add new levels of complexity to the piece.  Thankfully the curatorial staff is wonderful and I have a local Zurich-raised person who is willing to consult with me on language as well.

Artists Discussion Panel- Endangered Languages in the Information Age next Thursday

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Tomorrow night is the opening reception for Living With Endangered Languages in the Information Age! We are also having a panel discussion centering around the role of technology in Languages and Art on the 15th.  Please join us!

EndangeredLanguagePanel

Living with Endangered Languages in the Information Age (curated by Hanna Regev)
2nd Sat Reception: Saturday, January 10, 2015 – 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Exhibition Dates: Jan 7, 2015 to Jan 31, 2015
3rd Thursday Artist Panel Discussion: Thursday, January 15, 2015 – 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Including CREATIVE STATION, free all-ages art activities in our Classroom.

More on the show here: https://www.rootdivision.org/exhibition-rd-gallery/living-endangered-languages-information-age

Endangered Languages Piece- participate!

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capture of UNESCO's interactive map of endangered languages from http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/en/atlasmap.html

capture of UNESCO’s interactive map of endangered languages from http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/en/atlasmap.html

I am gathering endangered words for an artwork and I need speakers of endangered languages to participate in my project.

I have been invited to be part of an exhibition on Endangered Languages curated by Hanna Regev which will begin at Root Division in San Francisco.

I need to collect audio samples of certain words in endangered languages for the piece I will include in the show.  There is a physical element to the work, but the text and the sound of each language are essential to it.

I am looking for words that say something that isn’t easily translatable into more commonly spoken languages, possibly words that hints at the culture. For example: “tattybogle” is a lovely Scotts word (a language on the endangered list) but it directly translates into the English “scarecrow” so I would not count it. The word “tingo” (Pascuense , Easter Island) is better. On Altalang.com it is translated as “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”  This is a word which gives you a window into a culture that would produce such a word and takes a clever sentence to translate into a more  commonly spoken language.

What I need for my work is words like that from Endangered languages, spoken and explained on audio by speakers of those languages. Amazingly I’m already finding a fair few… on the internet. Mostly at this point it is friends of friends, but I hope to expand. If you speak an endangered language and would like to be part of the piece, please contact me at contact@marymarch.com with the subject heading “endangered languages”.

One component of the show is the effect of technology on languages.  Are dominant Languages like English, Mandarin and Spanish just taking over because of media and the internet or does the internet create opportunities to connect and encourage speakers of endangered languages? My thought is probably both, but I am finding that the internet is fantastic for connecting with people who speak endangered languages- something that may itself become part of the piece.

UPDATE (12/1):  I am still collecting Audio samples through the end of November. Please contact me if you can contribute. You may remain anonymous in the public project information if you like.  It’s basically a 15-30min Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime call (which you can turn the video part of off) where I record the word or phrase, your translation and a personal thought or story about them. 

INFORMATION

To see if a language you speak is on the endangered list see Wikipedia’s Lists of Endangered Languages by area.

The United Nations has an interactive map of endangered languages here.

Another great interactive map is here on the Endangered Languages Project site.

For more information on me and my work as an artist, see my website at www.marymarch.com (I suggest the installation and “About the Artist sections in this case).