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La lingva demando en la nuntempa arto

Abstract : At the start of the 20th century, several art movements introduced elements of language into the graphic arts. Dadaists and futurists, soon followed by surrealists, mixed words with images, often for the purpose of political commentary. The combination of two traditionally separate means of artistic expression was partly a consequence of the closeness of the artistic and poetic milieus at that time. Because the aim was to influence society, the languages used were usually the local languages. The futurist manifesto was first published in French in Paris (1909) and later translated into Italian; cuttings from local newspapers, Marcel Duchamp’s Gioconda, renamed L.H.O.O.Q. (1919) work only in French; Karel Teige’s modern and surrealist typography (1927) is in Czech. After the Second World War the use of language in art continued to develop. A tense political situation fed the production of visual arts. Many artists were working on the language element of art. In the 1960s the popularisation of new linguistic theories restarted the debate: does language replace the objects of art, and to what extent is language reliable? The question developed into a general discussion of sense and the broadening of senses. The British group “Art and language” (1967-1975) shed light on the possibility of replacing the art work with a linguistic discourse. Their famous journal was a foundation stone for the creation of so-called “conceptual art”. If art is expressed only through language then the manner of exhibition changes completely. Over that period it was not just the question of language that evolved but also the question of which language. The international circulation of works of art became deliberately planned. Besides local languages, French and English, and to a lesser extent German, were used to the same extent. The Slovak group “Happsoc” (1965, a combination of happening/happiness with society/socialism) has a name derived from English but published parallel texts in Slovak and French. In the West, the use of English opened the doors of art galleries and the commercial circuit. In Eastern Europe, English was seen as an abstract longing for free expression. Although French was still visible, English became a more and more generally accepted means of artistic communication. In the post-1989 context, the famous work by the Serbo-Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović “An artist who cannot speak English is no artist” (1994) appeared provocative but not convincing. The use of English was no longer a matter for discussion. Paradoxically, in the last twenty years there has been an increase in the number of works of art that make use of and discuss the language Esperanto. The most famous artist amongst the Esperanto-speaking public is Daniel Salomon, who for several years developed a “postnational” project (2003-2007) entitled “la loko” (“the place”). Various activities have involved Esperantists such as Baldur Ragnarsson. He has worked on the topics of a language that is understandable but not understood, and on worldwideness as opposed to globalism. His work also contains Esperantist topics such as an Esperanto football team or the creation of a Zamenhofian currency unit. From Hungary there have been various art works critical of Esperanto. Zsolt Asztalos created a series of videos (2011) which use Esperanto as a language without cultural foundation. He regards the language as “fictional, artificial” and the Esperanto community as choosing to be outside the world. In Budapest again, two Swiss and two Hungarian artists have organised an event called “Renaissance – now!” (2012). In a neomodernist style influenced by various comic-book traditions they decorated a room with pictures accompanied by numerous sentences in Esperanto. The iconography was linked to that of real socialism and Esperanto as “a modern, artificial, but almost half-dead language which looks like a funny paraphrase (sic) of Latin”. An entirely different relationship to the language is shown by Willem Boshoff of South Africa who for a long time has worked on the topic of language: on Afrikaans, on coded languages, on the 11 official languages of South Africa, and so on. In his work Children of the stars (2009) , an outdoors installation, he develops the subject of the origin of languages. A series of granite stones is a metaphor for the collision of a meteorite with the Earth 2000 million years ago. He draws a parallel between this event and the Biblical story of the tower of Babel. Boshoff engraved the story of Babel in forty languages on the stones. The Esperanto text appears equally ranked between English and Telugu, an Indian language.
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Pascal Dubourg Glatigny. La lingva demando en la nuntempa arto. INTERNACIA KONGRESA UNIVERSITATO 68-a SESIO, UEA, Jul 2015, Lille, France. ⟨halshs-02505118⟩

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