|Abstract or Description:
Zulu (Speaking in Radical Tongues) is a sculpture activated through performance by an actor. The three-dimensional letters ‘Z’ ‘U’ ‘L’ ‘U’ resemble a discarded advertising hoarding or props from a film set. During the performance, 'Zulu' both as sign and stage, is hijacked by a performer channelling dialogue and physical gestures borrowed from the diaries and manifestos of 1960s/70s urban guerrilla groups, communes and their cinematic counterparts. Presented as a seamless monologue, she acts out their political attitudes, bridging the gap in time, subjecting them to scrutiny in terms of their message and effect. The monologue is serially interrupted through the performers constant pushing and shifting of the life-size ‘Zulu’ letters into multiple configurations. Each performance of the work is recorded onto analogue audio-tape, the reel-to-reel player is part of the installation for the duration of the exhibition. This residue of the performance - reminiscent of the communiqués these groups would have produced at the time - becomes an intimate one-on-one experience as the audience’s only access to the recordings is through headphones.
Zulu (Speaking in Radical Tongues) was exhibited in the international group exhibition ‘Here We Dance’ at Tate Modern in 2008 with production funding from Tate. ‘Here We Dance’ looks at the relationship between the body and the state, exploring how the physical presence and circulation of bodies in public space informs our perceptions of identity, nation, society and democracy. The title derives from a work by Ian Hamilton Finlay, which refers to the celebrations that took place during the French Revolution, and alludes to the importance of social gathering in any form of political action or resistance. Bodily movements and gestures, collective actions and games are examined through media as diverse as film, photography, neon text and performance. Each work presents the viewer with the residue of a past event, be it personal memory, cultural tradition, or a moment of historical or political significance. Here We Dance includes work by Johanna Billing, Katinka Bock, Yael Davids, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Gail Pickering and Yvonne Rainer.
Here We Dance is the third in a series of four related exhibitions in the Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern’s dedicated space for contemporary and emerging international artists. The series explores ideas of citizenship through themes of economy, belief, the state and the individual.
ZULU (SPEAKING IN RADICAL TONGUES) was included in the international group exhibition ‘Neither Either Nor Or’ at WÜRTTEMBERGISCHER KUNSTVEREIN Stuttgart, Germany, from May 31 to August 3, 2008.
The exhibition brings together a collection of works by nine artists, ranging in form from video, film and slide installation to photography and performance. The link between the works is due to common structural features rather than a particular issue: all address questions of readability, borderline cases of understanding and the understandable in a radical way.
The works make deliberate use of complex, in some cases contradictory codes and references that produce an overabundance of possible interpretations, thus preventing us from cutting to the “core” of meaning. Others focus on forms of disappearance, forgetting, disguise, and transformation.
Language as an instrument, with which we produce and decode meaning, organise and systematically categorise our experiences, and as a medium of an “other” meaning – nonsense, paradox, deception –, plays a key role here: word and gesture appear as infinitely flexible generators of order and diversion.
As such, the exhibition fundamentally reflects the relationship of language and action to space, the dialogue between the space of the art work and the space of the viewer. The works constantly create a sense of uncertainty as to what we see, how we see it, and where we stand. By constantly forcing the viewer to adopt a new position, they assume an almost performative dimension. The reflective distance from where inside/outside, true/false, neither/nor, and either/or appear to be alternatives dissipates.
The artists include Ignasi Aballí, Sven Augustijnen, Enrico David, John Wood & Paul Harrison, David Lamelas, Renzo Martens, Gail Pickering and Emily Wardill.