Zimmer, Hagdud Haivir 5, Tel Aviv
If you speak it, it’s no legend -
In the frame of Contempo-Tel Aviv International Festival of Contemporary Music and Video Art
XV Parówek (Bartek Kalinka) (Poland)
Wolfram (Dominik Kowalczyk) (Poland)
Seventeen Migs of Spring (Israel)
If you speak it – it is no legend is a sound installation consisting of four original pieces written by Israeli and Polish composers. The common base of these works is the use of the voices of non-Jewish speakers who live in Israel – foreign workers and refugees from different countries, for whom Hebrew is primarily a functional language of communication.
The words that the speakers were requested to articulate were chosen from a selection handwritten on the first empty pages of a copy of the book titled Reshimat Milot Hayesod Lehora’at Halashon Haivrit (A Basic Word List of the Hebrew Language), published in Jerusalem in 1960, by the Department of Education and Culture in the Diaspora of the World Zionist Organization, edited by I. Mehlman, Haiim B. Rosen and Y. Shaked. The copy was purchased in Jerusalem in the Hagaleria Lesifrut bookstore on Shats Street.
The choice of words included in the chapter “Principles of Selecting the Words,” is a didactic-linguistic one, whose point of departure is that the language to be learned is “living Hebrew,” as spoken and written in Israel. According to the editors, most of the 1,000 words included are useful for conversational topics and for the construction of basic sentences, maintaining that a basic knowledge of the language cannot be achieved without these selected words. It is apparent from the sticker on the book, that the aforementioned additional list was chosen from the basic list of words by Dr. Edward Horowitz – who, it appears from a search on the Internet, was the author of the book How the Hebrew Language Grew – also published in 1960.
The recordings of the words and short conversations with the speakers were made by Aviad Albert and Bynia Reches in Bamat Meitzag at the new Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. Twenty-eight speakers – men and women, and two children – participated, all coming from different backgrounds: China, Eritrea, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Philippines, Romania, Sudan, Ukraine, and others. Each speaker was asked to read the list of words from a Latin transcription.
The collection of the recordings reveals an emphasis on the phonological aspect, while focusing on the differences in accents. The focus on the characteristics of the sounds of speech, and their musical value, is connected to modern music’s search for musical expression by means of speech. The focus on non-Jewish voices is connected to a search for expression that is devoid of the ideological-national influences that accompanied the revival and development of the modern Hebrew language, while giving way to a musicality that is less familiar in today’s Tel Aviv Hebrew.
The selection of the “Zimmer” as the location for presenting the installation is not a neutral choice. The Zimmer is located near or within the communities of many of the speakers, and is a new space, unique and independent from contemporary Tel Aviv’s artistic and musical sphere. It is a location where different and experimental methods merge without any economic or political considerations.
Project co-organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polish Year in Israel
Project financed from the means of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
Projekt współorganizowany przez Instytut Adama Mickiewicza w ramach Roku Polskiego w Izraelu 2008/2009, finansowany ze środków Ministerstwa Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego oraz Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych RP.