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grafisches Element

11 People Paid to Learn a Phrase

Santiago Sierra »




11 People Paid to Learn a Phrase

2001
Video, 12’
Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery (London)



“I am getting paid to say something, the meaning of which I do not know.” Santiago Sierra assembled eleven Tzotzil women, an indigenous ethnic group from the Mexican federal state of Chiapas, to speak this sentence in Spanish (“Estoy siendo remunerado para decir algo cuyo significado ignoro”) and paid them two dollars each to do so. Thus the artist places within a social context the repetition of a sound sequence that is meaningless for the persons saying it – that absurd moment of foreign language acquisition when the sense of language seems to disappear, leaving only the sound’s material and form. Using members of the Tzotzil language community, one of the most vital Maya languages still existing, his conceptual intervention highlights global power relations and the dependency of the so-called “Third World” on the “First.” He is further pointing out the colonialization of language – marked by the flow of funds – through the Spanish language, which in addition to English has become one of the most important common languages of capitalist systems.



Project: Lifelong Learning (Iteration II, Knowledge)
Dates: 7th September - 2nd October 2011
Project curators: CONT3XT.NET: Birgit Rinag & Franz Thalmair





grafisches Element