The 8th Letter
€14 / €11
English, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Tibetan → NL, FR
Starting with what appears to be a routine security check at the entrance to Tel Aviv airport, The 8th Letter explores a more deeply engraved border, albeit an invisible one, that lies in our oral cavity and determines the sounds and words we are able to pronounce. We carry this border in us, that is designed by our mother tongue and the environment in which we grew up, becoming ourselves a mobile checkpoint wherever we are. Touring between different territories – sonic, anatomical and political – The 8th letter highlights contemporary manifestations of the Shibboleth, a language test to determine whether or not you belong to a group. It is based on repeating a word or sound considered hard to pronounce by anyone from outside the linguistic community from which the shibboleth came. This type of test aimed at distinguishing “friend from foe” has been practiced since biblical times and is currently part of the procedures faced by asylum seekers in Europe in order to verify their stories. Machines determine whether the accents are correct, thus turning elocution into a veritable weapon of mass detection. Language saves or betrays, allows a person to be let in, indeed guarantees their survival or their exclusion.
A work by: Effi & Amir
Video: Effi & Amir
Sound Recording: Gedeon Depauw, Kwinten Van Laethem, Farhad Katrahmani, Lancelot Hervé-Mignucci
Research assistance: arp: Brussels
Production assistant: Julie Pfleiderer
Artistic advice: Katja Dreyer
Tracking operator: Alain Lechien
Scientific and technical support: Prof. Bernard Harmegnies, Institut de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies du Langage, Université de Mons
Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg
With the support of: VAF — Vlaams audiovisuel fonds, CBA — centre de l’audiovisuel à Bruxelles, Ostrovsky Family Fund, Argos — centre for audiovisual art, Artport And the kind collaboration of: Professor Jo Verhoeven, City University of London & Antwerp University, Dr. Peter Knopp, Department of Phonetics, University of Trier, Prof. Peter L. Patrick, University of Essex, Dr Kevin Nolan, School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, University College Dublin
Effi & Amir
Effi & Amir are visual artists who live in Brussels and work as a duo since 1999. Their work mostly involves video, performance and participatory strategies and often deals with collective identities, their construction and their relation to concrete places and symbolic systems. Apart from their own practice, they collaborate with other artists as editors, cameramen and effects designers. They teach and give video workshops to diverse audiences.