The In-Betweens of Language
August 1, 2008
What I submitted to that show in San Francisco…
The power of communication lays far beyond the actual words acquired and used in the expression of information, feelings, intent, actualization, need, and desire. The innate knowledge of language and the pattern of its development among children is referred to as Universal Grammar, and it is this convergence of complex neurological work that in part allows for the development of relationships between us all. I see this in the growing of the relationship I have with my youngest son, whose speech lags behind most children his age. There is this system of interaction that accomplishes communication. I see his eyes, where he looks, his short utterances, his hand on mine, his pleading. I take stock of the context of what we are doing, where we are, what he may want. I watch him coin his own catch phrases, his own words. I know him, I listen to him. Our shared knowledge of our enjoyment & frustration brings us together even when actual language is scarce. There is so much beauty in these subtleties. There is so much presence in the silence and the in-betweens of language. This is my mothering. This is my bi-lingualism.
And I stand between three cultures. Without knowledge of two of the languages, I rely on the comprehensions I do have to accomplish the connections that can fail me even in my native tongue. There is no perfect understanding except by mutual agreement and effort. Even then, there is incomplete knowledge. Perfection is illusive. Instead, interwoven among the fleeting words I try to grasp, is an acceptance of relationship based on mutual interest & agreed terms, among them- a shared family, a shared heritage, and a shared love.
In this work I have submitted, I am using paper as a stand-in for efforts at communication. It has been glossed, dusted, and hung for a fragile & gentle experience as it’s approached by the participant/observer. It has also been printed, re-printed, flipped upside-down & backwards, white-washed, splayed apart, tangled, and re-constituted as a thing in itself.