• Fri 06 03 – Thu 23 04 2020 •

In literary studies, the term exophony or ‘other-languagedness’ sometimes refers to the practice of writing in a language that is ostensibly not the ‘first language’ of the writer. Without an assumption of a distinct original language, however, this understanding of the concept is meaningless and useless. What exactly does this ‘first language’ consist of? Must it necessarily correspond to the concept of a national language that is established and reinforced by cultural, pedagogical and political canons and practices? Or should we not much rather understand language as an embodied, lived-in and social practice that necessarily eludes strict localizations?

Language remains inescapably tied to its functionality that allows us a common understanding of the world. In this sense, Exophony: sheds light on language both as a system of meaning and as an inevitable cultural and social practice. With a particular focus on experiences of and with multilingualism, translation and translatability, the program explores the processes of writing, reading and listening, manipulations of and through language as well as interaction and communication. But instead of engaging in debates on which language or writing practices are ‘other’ or ‘foreign’, Exophony: wishes to dig into cultural and artistic strategies that challenge the system of language in the sense of a closed, static, self-evident space or body. Exophony: thus addresses not so much ‘other-languagedness’ than the otherness of language itself and illustrates how it is continually reconfigured through fluid and plural practices.

Exophony: revolves around these ideas in a series of five events, and these discussions, readings and performances are simultaneously an invitation to the audience to reflect not just on the acts of speaking and writing but also on those of listening and reading. Language should not just be accessible as a medium of communication, it should also be possible to experience it as an acoustic or visual composition. Exophony: offers an opportunity to collectively rethink communication structures and language practices and to explore the diversity and simultaneity of a shared language landscape.

The program series Exophony: is funded by Kunststiftung NRW.