Voicings exposes the subtle violence that can be hidden in everyday speech, when the person involved is a foreigner, a subject at times forced (as in the case of political refugees or economic migrants) to exist in another language and in another culture.

For the person forced to embrace a new idiom speech is not naturally embodied.

I use written testimonies and live performance to camera with two sets of people collaborate without ever meeting: a group of refugees from an English language class and a group of white British professional actors and voice coaches. It is key for me (protesting against the sensationalism present in contemporary mainstream television) not to point the camera at the vulnerable subject: the aim is to destabilise the agency of the privileged subject.

Short accounts written by refugees regarding their problems caused by language barriers when they first came to the UK are the ‘scripts’, given to professional actors to learn. Because the ‘scripts’ carry syntactical and grammatical errors, and because it is the actor’s task to convey the text in a convincing manner through perfect enunciation, the performances result in an authentic discomfort. 

Political issues are at stake at the level of cultural contingencies, as well as the theoretical question of the speaking subject that needs to be distinguished from the subject of speech (an issue addressed in psychoanalysis via politics and linguistics). 

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a critical analysis

Productive Ambiguities, Bodies, Mistakes, and Voices in Laura Malacart’s Vocings, (2015)

Karin Anzivino, Research Master in Cultural Analysis, UVA, Amsterdam.