THE BUREAU of LINGUISTICAL REALITY on Seeding New Language /138
Places with the richest biodiversity are also home to the greatest diversity of languages left in the world. As these remaining sanctuaries come under threat from climate disaster and resource expansion, we risk losing Indigenous languages that are alive and attuned to their homelands, and contain unparalleled ecological knowledge essential to healing the earth. Meanwhile, for those of us who learned to speak a dominant language like English, our tongues carry the legacy of colonialism, the stripping of the land, and we are constrained within a monocultural worldview of culture and land. How are we to express our grief at witnessing the loss unfolding amidst the Anthropocene, when we lack the words to begin with? Our guests this week are Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott from The Bureau of Linguistical Reality, a public participatory artwork that inspires individuals to create new words to understand and articulate the sensations of living within our rapidly changing world. Heidi and Alicia open the doors to freeing trapped sensations and emotions that have gone unnamed and unfelt under the weight of climate disaster.
Heidi Quante was raised speaking three languages simultaneously and as a result, has long been fascinated with how words influence peoples’ thoughts, actions and ultimately culture. Creating new words is something she loves doing and has been doing since she first learned to communicate with other humans. (Adult reprisals of “That’s not a word” didn’t stop her when she was 5 years old, nor does it today). Quante was inspired to create this artwork with Alicia Escott because she was at a loss for words to describe the very real emotions, and feelings she found herself experiencing as our world rapidly changes due to social, political and environmental factors. Quante’s passion as an artist and founder of the non-profit Creative Catalysts is finding innovative approaches to inspiring cultures to address the pressing social and environmental challenges of our time. This passion is a continuation of 17 years of designing and running a wide array of environmental and human rights initiatives. Quante received a Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of the Arts in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California Berkeley.
Alicia Escott’s artistic thinking focuses on grappling with what it is to live a human life amid a moment that is profoundly rare in the geologic and ecologic history of the planet. She is interested in how we each are negotiating our immediate day-to-day realities and responsibilities amid an awareness of the overarching specter of climate change, mass extinction and other Anthropocenic events. She approaches these issues with an interstitial practice that encompasses writing, drawing, painting, photography, video, sculpture and social practice. Escott holds an MFA from California College of Art, where she received the Richard K. Price Scholarship in painting and a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago.
In this refreshing interview, Heidi, Alicia and Ayana break through the limits imposed by dominant languages, and invite radical freedom of expression to enrich our unique identities, experiences, our relationships with each other and with the earth. Listen in as we meditate on the necessity to revitalize Indigenous languages, reawaken the joys of wordplay, celebrate the creativity of youth, and to empower ourselves by rewilding our vocabulary. We are reminded of the need to speak the truth in every circumstance, and to imagine the world we wish to create.
Original Research: Madison Magalski
♫ Music by Arthur Moon
♦ REFERENCES/RECOMMENDATIONS ♦
Robert Macfarlane - cataloguing land-based wisdom of Celtic languages; author of Underland, A Deep Time Journey; and the children’s book The Lost Words.
Robin Wall Kimmerer: Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss
♦ LEARN MORE ♦
Find inspiration from The Bureau Of Linguistical Reality’s collection of neologisms, or submit your own word here! https://bureauoflinguisticalreality.com/portfolio/
Language Making Nature is a handbook of word-making tools and insights for writers, artists and thinkers: http://www.languagemakingnature.com
To delve deeper into the crisis of losing of Indigenous languages, listen to our episode Lyla June on the Endangered Diversity of Language and Life
Explore FirstVoi, a suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Indigenous people engaged in language archiving, language teaching and culture revitalization.
The Endangered Languages Project harnesses technology to enable language revitalization. Explore information and resources on endangered languages. You can also participate by helping to put languages online by submitting information or samples in the form of text, audio or video files.
Immerse yourself in the multi-media http://www.dearclimate.net/about that lead viewers and listeners towards a better informed, more realistic, and more affectionate relationship to the more-than-human world, including geo-physical forces, and others species.
About Our Podcast…
At For The Wild, we discuss the critical ideas of our time and parlay them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society. We will travel deep into ancient forests, align with the struggles and ways of Earth-based people, and rekindle the mysteries of intuition. We will join today’s brightest visionaries in this momentous work of reimagining a world where humanity can find its way back into the web of life.