Mother Tongue, 2016
Mother Tongue (home, assimilation, family, language, displaced, heritage, refugee, birthplace, history, loss culture, boat, identity, north, south, stories, nationhood, trauma, half, reconcile, foreign, war, connection, ownership, native, inherit, honour, bloodline, mother tongue, home), 2016, single channel video, 3:52min, looped, installation of rice and plastic chairs, dimensions variable
Mother Tongue is a solo exhibition by Andy Mullens that uses installation and video performance to explore language. Interested in highlighting the discomfort and disconnect the artist experiences being monolingual, Mullens exposes her inability to speak Vietnamese in her performance. She contrasts this with the natural and confident performance of her mother speaking her first language. The list of 30 loaded words translated from English to Vietnamese become lost as they fall clumsily from the artists mouth. However, there is connection in disconnection, as the viewer and the artist experience the discomfort together, becoming more familiar with the both the failed words and the true words through the duration of the work. The work is titled after the list of words in the video.
The video is paired with an installation of rice across the gallery floor, creating a scented, tactile and restricted path that requires conscious movement within the space. The audience is offered the option of red plastic chairs to view the work, similar to the plastic chairs belonging to the street vendors of Vietnam.
This exhibition was created as part of the inaugural In Focus residency at PhotoAccess in 2016. Mother Tongue opened December 1 2016 and was sponsored by Lerida Estate Wines.