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. My hosts and almost everyone I met during the residency were from the Venezuelan art community. I spent all the time 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 selected keywords which appear in the recordings and, at the same time, are important for understanding the stories. I have ordered them alphabetically. Through automated software I extracted every phrase from the interviews in which a keyword is present, tearing it off from the context in which it was used. Thus restructuring, rearranging and fracturing their personal stories completely and emphasizing on the potential meanings in the individual phrases.
A dictionary serves to give definition to the words. In this work, I replace their meaning with a cloud of personal meanings and definitions extorted from the context. I use the formal organization of the dictionary to gather all the nuances appearing around each of these words.
Along with their stories I included mine about my own experiences in Miami, written in Bulgarian.
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