HD video, 35 minutes, 2018
In this video there are three main characters: Me, my friend Jarno and the Greek language; the language that, (or the descendant of the language that,) gave birth to Western philosophy, poetry and drama. In this project I wanted to take the Greek language completely out of its “natural element” in two ways: By filming in a completely different country, and by filming a conversation between two people whose native language is not Greek. So I decided to invite my Finnish friend Jarno, who is married to a Greek woman and speaks the language fluently, to come to Iceland and talk to me.
«Jarno,» I wrote to him, in broken Greek. «I can speak Greek now. I taught myself to speak Greek. I don’t speak it fluently, but I get by. I am in Iceland. I want you to come to Iceland and talk to me. We’ll wander around in the Icelandic lava fields and we’ll talk about stuff, in Greek, like two Stoic philosophers in the Athenian agora, except instead of tunics and sandals, we’ll be wearing anoraks and woolly hats. Two Nordic Stoics.»
We set out on a windy morning in November, on the Reyjkanes peninsula, and we ended up discussing a number of different topics; the current political situation in Poland, postmodernism, mass extinctions, tourism in Iceland and unemployment in Greece.
The work of Sigbjørn Bratlie (born in Oslo, 1973,) revolves around language, – or more specifically, – foreign languages. As performance projects his videos are the end result of a process whereby the artist first spends around one year teaching himself a (more or less useful) foreign language, and subsequently creates an art project in which he, – in a specific setting, – communicates with someone in this language.
Bratlie’s artworks have a conceptual, analytical and quite often humoristic feel to them. There is also a hermeneutic approach to contemporary visual culture at the basis of these works: Often, they are created in an attempt to create order and linguistic meaning in various cultural phenomena. Many of his projects deal with situations where the access to meaning and mutual understanding is severely hampered due to lack of vocabulary, misunderstandings, bad grammar or bad pronunciation.
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