A is for Alphabet 2 one-channel HD videos with sound,
7 gelatin silver prints, 26 tiny pure sculpture reliefs
This project was originally conceptualized as videos, exploring the struggles of mastering a new language, such as the difficulty with pronunciation and the discomfort of those moments. Here, the viewers hear my collaborator for these video pieces, a native English speaker, reading aloud words and phrases from A to Z, and myself struggling to repeat those words. This duet echoes the way in which I would practice English in Vietnam in attempts to master it. Surprisingly, during the continued act of repetition and performative articulations, words became meaningless, nonsensical babble, rather than building blocks for coherent speech. Both the English learner and the native English speaker became confused, and the meaning of the scripted words was muddled or lost, along with the language’s colonial power. This active undoing of linguistic dominance of the English language—the tongue of the colonizer—is an act of a decolonial practice.
To connect the video component with my Vietnamese heritage and native language, I created a series of photographs printed on gelatin silver, a set of English alphabets modeled from my handwriting, and cast from pure silver. This decision is inspired by the Vietnamese proverb: “Lời nói là bạc” translated to English as “Words are silver.”
Visit the project explanation here.