Lost for Words

© Susan Dorothea White

Lost for Words, 2002-2003
carved salvaged Huon pine, paint, fabric, The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, A Gumbaynggir Language Dictionary, map of Aboriginal Languages of Australia.
94 x 85 x 38 cm

Artist Comment

The assemblage Lost for Words represents the vulnerability of indigenous cultures that are disappearing under the dominance of the English language.

Hands and arms carved from a single piece of Huon pine connect A Gumbaynggir Language Dictionary and The Compact Oxford English Dictionary. The clothed male arm represents the dominance of English-speaking culture; its large hand grips the index finger of the female Aboriginal hand and arm emerging in a supinated or giving gesture from the open pages of a small dictionary of fragments of a surviving Aboriginal language. The black fingers unfold reluctantly, one finger still touching the palm in a symbolic effort to retain the language - it is not a gesture of relinquishment!

The assemblage stands on a map showing the hundreds of aboriginal languages and dialects that existed before white settlement, most of which are now extinct or endangered. 

Susan Dorothea White (2013)

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