Vanishing Voices is a series of multi-media works that encourage a reflection on interrupted linguistic heritage. When language transmission is broken we lose a unique knowledge of how a community perceived the world, and indeed how they perceived themselves. 

Following the death of a language, the story may not be over, for at some point a community may wish to make contact with their interrupted linguistic heritage and thereby resurrect their language. 

The Triptych represents the transition from a living language full of associations and potential (this stage is represented by thread weaving), through to a static phase when the last speaker dies, and finally on to an attempt at reviving the language in question. 

 

wa'ts sAsinhl q'aayaatl'hix Exhibition View, 2012 Photo: Anita Chowdry

wa'ts
sAsinhl
q'aayaatl'hix

Exhibition View, 2012
Photo: Anita Chowdry

Note: The titles are in Eyak, an extinct Na-Dené language historically spoken by the Eyak people, indigenous to south-central Alaska.

The last speaker of Eyak, Marie Smith Jones, died in 2008. The Eyak community has been trying to re-learn its language. 

 

 

 

sAsinhl (Dead) plaster relief, detail full size 40 x 40 x 40 cm

sAsinhl (Dead)
plaster relief, detail
full size 40 x 40 x 40 cm

q’aayaatl’hix (A New Beginning) plastic dimensions vary

q’aayaatl’hix (A New Beginning)
plastic
dimensions vary