Clare Charnley

Concepts/ideas/themes For some time I have investigating the problematics of intercultural dialogue, with particular reference to nationalism and the politics of language. Employing live art for its directness and its high risk of embarrassment, this inquiry initially took the form of a six-year collaborative project in a range of countries (Speech 2002-20077). Speech acknowledges, and then utilises, different cultural experiences, urgencies and intentions. It is not based on consensus. One of my collaborators described the work as opening up situations of mutual vulnerability. It has lead to the publication of So communication… translating each other’s words, co edited with Katrin Kivimaa, in which issues of language are considered by an international selection of writers, artists and academics pondering themes drawn form the performances. Word Exchange involves swapping stories with the public about language(s) and pleasure, and about subjective attraction to specific words (Fresh Festival Hastings UK; Humbermouth Literature Festival, UK). In the process I have built up an evolving collection of brief recordings of individuals’ linguistic loves (in Kurdish, Somali, Cornish, Swedish, Portuguese, Taiwanese, English, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Welsh, Russian, Icelandic, Arabic, Estonian etc). These recordings are made and held on simple yellow record/playback units (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsedlf1w_4Y ) which were activated in a performance at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. In Misunderstandings, another ongoing project, other’s firsthand verbal accounts of misunderstandings (cultural, linguistic, behavioural, technological etc.) are pitted against each other. As anecdotes they become a means of verbalising understandings and interpretations, as well as a process of laughing at the flaws, pitfalls and general unreliability of communication. Some of these stories have been told many times and polished in the process so that they better represent the teller’s worldview. Sometimes they reveal assumptions, prejudices or fears. At other times they point towards romantic imaginings about the other. There is much comedy in misunderstanding, and the teller often recounts in a humorous way, laughing as they do so. The laughter can be directed towards themselves who may be revealing an act of ignorance, naivety or stupidity. In these cases the telling of the story is often an act of generosity on the part of the narrator. Immigrants’ experiences are often rich in misunderstandings, both as misunderstander and misunderstandee. However, although misunderstandings are can be generated by difference it is also important to recognise that the phenomena of misunderstanding is universal, and gather material from as many sectors and in as many languages as possible. Exhibited together in a database, these parallel stories will build a grand and complex narrative about the process of forging meaning in incomprehensible situations – an activity that can evidence great creativity and ingenuity Career Research Fellow in art Media, University of Lincoln Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Leeds Metropolitan University read full statement

Location Leeds, Yorkshire
Website http://www.clarecharnley.com