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I often feel like a dirtbag for only speaking English, sending emails to artists and galleries around the world, expecting to be understood and responded to. This is because English is inextricably bound up with colonization, and it is worth reflecting on the power of language as it is used today, how it can be employed to invalidate or bolster certain cultures. And yet, as a practical matter, English is spoken by many people in the art world; its common currency allows us to communicate with each other. The Frieze Art Fair, as part of their podcast series, has published Do you speak English?, which confronts this issue head on. Frieze asks: “English has become the lingua franca of the art world, spoken by people of many nationalities from around the globe. Whose English then are we speaking, and how does its ambiguous status affect what we say?” They name this customary tongue of the art world as Globe-ish, and there is some super great conversation about how language affects the way we think, and how the space between languages (if you speak more than one of them) affects what you say. You should listen…

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  1. JW says:

    i think you would truly enjoy the work of David Abram, if you’re not already familiar with his writing. In ‘The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World’ … he approaches language by considering not only the words humans use to represent the world around us, but the sounds and constant live communication of the culture of our living world that we often miss when we focus only on words. Words afterall came from these sounds and impressions … and when we can first understand different cultures without relying on words, we can more easily find the words, sounds and representations that do have common ground …

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