I arrived in Miami on the 26th of September 2017 for a one month art residency. It was bizarre. It was just after the hurricane Irma and the city felt sad, definitely something you wouldn’t expect from a city like Miami. My hosts and almost everyone I met during the residency were from the Venezuelan art community. I spent all the time there with them. I didn’t speak Spanish and not all of them spoke English, but we really wanted to find a way to communicate. I was trying to guess what they were saying by their intonation, by their body language, by some words that I could catch, but mostly we were using Google Translate. Although Google Translate has improved a lot over the years our understanding was usually very vague and hazy. It was just a general idea, a distant feeling of the meaning of what had been said. Literally the language, its body was falling apart, was fractured and so much damaged that it was becoming something completely different – a shadow, the ghost of language. I felt lost, in constant haze of clues and signs. At the same time I was tempted and attracted to explore it. I wanted to find a way, a system to put back together or at least to cope with this state of communication so I decided to create my own dictionary.
I recorded four interviews with Venezuelan artists, living in Miami, in Spanish and English. They shared their personal feelings and stories about their art, about leaving Venezuela and coming to Miami.
From these interviews I have made a list of keywords which appear in the recordings and, at the same time, are important for understanding the stories. I have ordered them alphabetically. Then I searched with automated software in each paragraph of the four interviews where a word from the list is used, extract the phrases and put these below the word. Thus restructuring, rearranging and fracturing their stories completely in attempt to create new meanings and new relations between them. Along with their stories I included mine about my own experiences in Miami, written in Bulgarian.
A dictionary is by definition created to give meaning to words. In this work I remove the context behind the meanings of these words, making way for new interpretations to emerge, arranged by some random influence among each other. It is transforming a very personal, private and subjective story into the very formal, objective and impersonal body of the dictionary. The stories are originally in three languages – English, Spanish and Bulgarian. All the translations between these languages are made again with Google translate, exposing its power and limitations.
The work consists of three separate elements – the art book, the audio of the original interviews and the video footage I have recorded during my stay, capturing the mood of the city and how I felt it.
- full PDF of the book