Parrhesia - Through Language in Vienna
Through Language in Vienna

A collaboration between Parrhesia, Zochrot and Ursula Hofbauer

Within the framework of the exhibition: OVERLAPPING VOICES
Israeli and Palestinian Artists
Essl Museum, Vienna
16/05 – 26/10/08
Opening: 15/05/08, 7.30 p.m.
Curators: Karin Schneider and Friedemann Derschmidt (Rites-institute), Vienna
Co-Curators: Tal Adler, Amal Murkus, Israel

Through Language is a public art project, a visual dictionary and site-specific glossary alternating between Arabic, German and Hebrew.
Giving the Arabic and the Hebrew languages presence in the public sphere in Europe evoke issues relating to the presence of our cultures within Europe, in the past as well as in the present .
We hope to question the tendencies of the Western world to perceive Arabic and Hebrew languages and cultures as threats and thus refer to the constant uprising of xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in Europe.
he project also proposes language and culture as an arena for listening and engaging in dialogue with the others.

AugartenStadt was not chosen by chance; as "verlorene Insel (lost island)" was the main scene of Jewish displacement in 1938 – and as a site of new migration, it is the space of current conflicts between populism, xenophobia and Muslim self-assertion.

The project was carried out before in two places in Israel – in Jerusalem and in Jaffa – employing Arabic and Hebrew transcriptions and translations. The project was a response to the widespread practice of Israeli extremists erasing the Arabic language from street signs, by using stickers or spray paint and to the state practices of Palestinian cultural oppression by marginalizing and under-privileging Arabic - an official language in Israel.
The Arabic words constitute keys to stories, memories, hopes and fears that are for the most part heard only inside private homes, without a presence in the public sphere and its discourse. The idea was to allow Arabic a presence in our public life.
We would like to manifest the presence of the Palestinian citizens of Israel - the native people upon whose destruction our state is built - through the visualization of their language and to express our wish to become culturally integrated in the Middle East.

Through Language was first presented in August 2006 in the exhibition "Neighborhood Works" (Curated by the Sala-Manca group) in the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem. The project's second presentation was in Jaffa where it was curated by the "Ayam" artist group, with the support of the Tel Aviv–Jaffa Municipality's Culture & Arts Division, Department of Arts; The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon; and The New Israel Fund.

Parrhesia is a group of educators, social activists and artists from the fields of graphic and industrial design, cinema, photography, video and fine art, who are engaged in Israel's civil society.
The group collaborates with organizations for social change and community activists – in addition to their independent activities in the public sphere.

Zochrot ["Remembering"] is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. Zochrot endeavors to make the history of the Nakba accessible to the Israeli public, so as to engage Jews and Palestinians in an open recounting of their painful common history.
Zochrot hopes that by bringing the Nakba into Hebrew, the language spoken by the Jewish majority in Israel, they can make a qualitative change in the political discourse of this region. Acknowledging the past is the first step in taking responsibility for its consequences.
This must include equal rights for all the peoples of this land, including the right of Palestinians to return to their homes.

Parrhesia and Zochrot are engaged in an ongoing process of collaboration – the publication of Sedek, a magazine about the ongoing Nakba. Its first two issues can be viewed in the following links:

DI Ursula Hofbauer is a Vienna-based artist and architect who has been working in and with public space in several exhibitions and art projects, including: “Strange Views” (1999), an exhibition project in the Viennese Prater with lettering on sidewalks; “Permanent Breakfast” (1999-2005), the everlasting breakfast in public space; wine-tasting with homeless people under a Viennese Bridge (2002); and art projects with refugees (2004-2006). Lectures, publications and guided tours about the Permanent Breakfast project, gender and public space and Viennese landmarks. Hofbauer is decidedly dedicated to all questions of democratic use and appropriation of public space and resulting designs.
We thank Aktionsradius Wien at Gaussplatz
for a lot of valuable information, their hospitality and straightforward support.
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