In Vienna, Marcel Schwald and I were guests of the Brunnenpassage for a month. As part of the Festival “Viertel Kilometer,” our goal was to learn all the languages spoken in the quarter. On 15 days, we organized public language courses taught by people we had met on the street, in shops or on various occasions, and whom we had invited to be our teachers. We also offered the so-called Live Lexicon: a street action. We learned the language of passers-by, who then also started to teach each other what they knew and to correct each other.
The result: learning a different language every day does not lead to comprehensive language competency in that specific language, but it conveys a feeling for the geographically induced mutation of languages around the globe: it leads to geographic knowledge based on sounds.
At the end of the four-week performance, we presented a “Best of Languages” at the Brunnenpassage, comprising films, performance, and interaction.
“Ever since the first word was spoken, a liquid mass of language has washed over the earth; languages slosh from continent to continent, sinking into the sea, suffocating; languages erupt from volcanoes, languages mutate. If you dive into this language bath with us, you will develop a feeling for this bath, and thus a feeling for time.
You will develop a feeling for the way languages suddenly exploded on the Indian subcontinent, how languages swim into other languages in some parts of the world, mixing and superimposing, how languages can become rigid and hard, and then again how they flow through valleys as if they had never been anything but pure liquid matter, no longer meaning spoken by man, but organic matter that is constantly growing and shrinking, uncontrollable.”
TEACH US YOUR LANGUAGE!
All Languages – A Crash Course
Concept: Andreas Liebmann
Performance and Realization:
Andreas Liebmann and Marcel Schwald
Brunnenpassage Vienna, March 2011