MotherTongue. Size variable. Moving image installation, 6 channel video, ceramic. 2018.

We exist in so many layers that our identities can never fully be unraveled. Language as one of these layers holds the fluidity necessary to capture the movements of these identities, through expansion and loss.

“MotherTongue” is an installation piece that uses video, sculpture, and light to create an immersive environment for the audience. The work deals with the disconnect caused by the loss and misunderstanding of language.

The mother tongue being the first language a person learns to speak can be said to be the language a person feels most honest in. This piece discusses the disassociation created between self and culture when a language is cut off from future generations as well as the languages of regret, loss and shame. As a Nigerian-American that has lost a part of my lingual identity because of assimilation, I created this work as a cathartic journey to healing.

English (the language that taught me regret, that I think in and feel in), Ibibio-Efik (the language I never had, that I feel the most loss in, that I long in, that I have removed from future generations), French (the language that follows me, that I used to hide my shame), and Spanish (the language that taught me how to feel and that revealed pain to me) are used as a pillars for the passage of my lingual identities.

Clips from all 6 screens in the order of:

  1. Story
  2. Efik song
  3. English song
  4. French song
  5. Spanish song
  6. My languages

At New Art Exchange July 12th – August 23rd 2019

At Nottingham Contemporary May 10th – May 13th 2018

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