the mute tongue
video(s), 19 arabic proverbs, 20: 47', HDV, 2010

In this work, I staged in silent vignettes 19 Arabic proverbs and sayings I use in my daily life, even if I might disapprove with their meaning, and I invited Croatian performer and artist Sinisa Labrovic who does not speak Arabic to be the protagonist of them all. Mostly family members and friends whom you might see in my other works played the additional roles.

But the proverb’s protagonist might not have a face: it can be anyone, and no one at the same time, not to be recognized and consequently not to be alive when “being in the proverb”, or when “being in language”. This might recall a fragment by Judith Butler, saying:  
“Autonomy in speech, to the extent that it exists, is conditioned by a radical and originary dependency on a language whose historicity exceeds in all directions the history of the speaking subject. And this excessive historicity and structure makes possible that subject’s linguistic survival as well as, potentially, that subject’s linguistic death. 
(Judith Butler, Excitable Speech)
This work was supported and produced by the Arab Funds for Arts and Culture (AFAC)
Camera: Ben Geraerts 
Assistant: Irene van de Mheen