In this performance, I look at first languages (the “mother tongue”), my own included, and the complication this notion implies in contexts where the mother tongue is a purely spoken language outside of institutional (read-write) frameworks. I question power hierarchies implicit in institutionalized languages by putting forward oralities from the margin and their alternative forms of expression whose agency live in embodied forms of articulation. I am arguing that the embodiment of an orality, its containment in a colonized, disenfranchised, diasporic body, is exactly what gives it power.

I see orality as a way to access an intersectionality, one that ruptures the idea of bound cultures, and instead proposes that culture—by extension, language—is in perpetual flux, one that’s marked by creative becomings, but to do this we have to break down and re-digest what constitutes a “mother tongue”— to imbibe, expel, replenish, take shape— and sing, sing in a tongue blessed by many mothers.

The performance lecture has been presented for Being & Feeling (Alone,Together) Lamont Gallery, Exeter, New Hampshire (2020), the 9th Bucharest Biennale (2021), KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin (2021) in Forms of Migration, The Museum of Impossible Forms Helsinki (2021), Sensorium II in Tromsø (2022), the Elizabeth Arts Foundation NYC (2022) and the RMIT Gallery Melbourne in my solo show An altar for the fleshy tongue (2023).
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