Visual art and language are not very often seen in association. Yet, even if we may not be particularly used to wondering what is the ‘language’ of a sculpture, or whether a painting can be ‘translated’, art is linked directly to the culture and the language of the people who produced it, and of the places where it is exhibited – so that when it travels, across cultures and borders, it always acquires new meanings. Moreover, visual art has evolved in the past few decades to include elements of performance and discourse: since these elements are often expressed verbally, we as spectators are exposed more and more to the linguistic elements involved in visual art. In a world that becomes more and more multilingual, artists
break down boundaries around unitary notions of language and easy categorizations of their speakers, they disorient by questioning the very idea of ‘meaning’ and ‘communication’, they undermine control and ownership of language, books, and linguistic spaces, and they run against the ideas of linguistic fixity, essentialism and demagogy. By engaging in creative linguistic alchemy, text-based artists demystify and demythologize language for those prepared to listen.(Jaworski 2014, 154)
Visual art is capable, now more than ever, of working the differences between languages, and reworking them to reflect on the multilingual environment we live in.
With this in mind, we would like to present an emerging visual artist who will join us for the “My Story – My Words” symposium: Marta Golubowska.
Marta was born in Poland and is now based in Kildare, after moving to Ireland in 2006. Her work is “an exploration of the everyday experience of building a new identity and putting down roots in a country, language and culture that is unfamiliar and foreign.” In 2016, she won the Kildare County Council Emerging Artists Award.
Through sculpture, painting and recording, Marta explores the links between individuals and the community, in art work that involves the collaboration of the people of the very community she inhabits. One of her last pieces, Be-Longing, combines different visual and audio experiences to describe the experience of the community, and the reconfigurations of the idea of ‘home’ (a word that is a key-word in our project) in an age of mobility. Be-Longing depicts the housing estate where the artist lives, in its repetitiveness – but also populates it with people and their different stories. 144 ceramic houses, as many as there are in her real housing estate, are stamped with the same images – apart from the ones that are inhabited by people that the artists knows personally, and who have decorated their house. These houses will be glazed in the presence of the community on September 9, in the Newbridge Riverbank Arts Center. In this way, the piece maps the connections that the artist has made in her new environment, together with an audio recording of her interviews with her neighbours.
Marta Golubowska’s new art projects will explore more in detail the relationship between language and identity from the point of view of a mobile person in a multilingual world. We are looking forward to see how this develops, and to hear more about how the experience of mobility and working in a new language has impacted her art.
(pictures by M. Golubowska, used with the artist’s permission)