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Potential Wor(l)ds Workshop






Sonic Acts


Amsterdam (NL)


Aliyah Hussain, Anna Bunting-Branch



Potential Wor(l)ds is a collaborative project between artists Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain, drawing on shared interests in feminist science fiction, embodied processes of making, and different ways of worldbuilding.

The workshop begins with an introduction to Láadan, a feminist language created by linguist and science fiction writer Suzette Haden Elgin in 1984. Finding herself unable to express certain ideas and emotions in English, Elgin intended Láadan to make space for new words and ways of communicating. For Elgin, the idea of gaps in language offers a place to start creating change. She called these gaps ​potential words’. Her experiment tested the hypothesis that ​there are changes you could not introduce into a language without destroying it and languages you could not introduce into a culture without destroying it,’ and that ​change in language brings about social change, rather than the contrary.’

The idea of these potential wor(l)ds forms the basis of this workshop, where participants experiment with contact mics, found objects, drawing and our own bodies to create a collective vocabulary. The workshop moves away from dominant ways of communicating to explore more experimental, collaborative modes of expression. Using gesture, mark-making and sound in order to try to feel what is being communicated as well as what cannot yet be said.

Material from this workshop was added to the Potential Wor(l)ds dictionary, an online archive documenting previous workshops in Bergen, Brighton and Liverpool.

Photo Pieter Kers

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