- Sophie Rose
Artists: Shahrzad Changalvaee, JJJJJerome Ellis, Nour Mobarak, and Anri Sala
Glot, titled after a Greek-origin suffix meaning “to have a tongue,” is an exhibition about spoken language and its limits. Bringing together the work of Shahrzad Changalvaee, JJJJJerome Ellis, Nour Mobarak, and Anri Sala, Glot explores the politics of speech beyond its signifying function—a politics residing in the strange excess of the voice itself, which both carries and disturbs the speaker’s intention
Speech wavers and folds across each artist’s work for different reasons. A sound piece by Mobarak samples conversations with her late father as his memory was fading, while Ellis’s concrete poems and photographs register the generative breaks in conversation caused by their stutter. In a video of two Senegalese children learning the shapes and sounds of the Wolof language, Sala translates their words into both American and British English, suspending any definitive meaning for the non-native listener. Finally, in a significant new commission, Changalvaee places wet clay in her mouth and pronounces repeated, ambivalent desires about migration, language, and her home country of Iran. These small clay sculptures dry with the imprint of her oral gestures: registering—but not disclosing—the words that shaped them.
Glot proposes dysarticulation as a core condition of speaking with one another. A term from speech therapy, “dysarticulation” in the exhibition becomes a way to approach stubbornly disjointed or burdensome dialogue, in which we might not find the right words or endlessly stumble over them. Shown together, these artists fray the tie between the medium of speech and its seemingly self-evident message. They choose the unresolved utterance over the clear demand, redundancy over lean communication, and the voice’s snags and frictions over fluent speech.
This exhibition is accompanied by Glot: Four Conversations on Voice, a publication of original, long-form interviews with the participating artists.
Support for the new commission by Shahrzad Changalvaee is provided by Roya Khadjavi.
Support for the publication is provided by the General Sir John Monash Foundation.