Mother Tongue

The ‘mother tongue’ is at the origin of language, be it artistic or otherwise. Such a simple statement has had a tremendous impact on Western logics, challenging pillar concepts such as ownership, uniqueness, bonding, belonging, purity, blood and soil, the Sovereignty of the One. As Jacques Derrida affirms, one must feel the evocation and vibration of the ‘mother tongue’ and the cogent melancholia for its constant loss, while remaining nevertheless alert and attentive, responsible and critical, to the risk of subsuming the mother tongue into the powerful drives of patriarchal sovereignty (J. Derrida: 1996). Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno join the philosopher in his deconstruction. The Matriarchive of the Mediterranean welcomes the critical debate, simultaneously looking at it from a feminine point of view. In this sense, this section wants to collect recent aesthetics by women claiming for themselves the right to the un-doing (respect, cure, and transformation, at the same time) of the mother tongue and its potential nostalgia through the deployment of experimental languages. These languages build onto each other, and on a specific corporeal Techné, which can be felt, touched, heard, constantly writing, always on the move.
This section brings together choreographical and performative expressions of artistic events, which – across a wide spectrum of different techniques – can be classified as elusive or ephemeral. Once they are through, mnemonic traces still remain, as surviving gestures that live and revive in the reservoir of the bodily memory of those who dance and those who assist to the dancing act (R. Schneider: 2011). Once it has been picked up, in-corporated and em-bodied, the mother tongue – the language of a corporeal, feminine, other identity – is disseminated through the mixed up, dynamic encounter/clash of a tongue with another (mother)tongue, a language with another language. It is disseminated across the strata of other forms of knowledge: choreo-graphic knowledge, techniques and qualities of movement, which return as other-than-they-used-to-be at each and every ´examination´ and exhibition – be it a live performance, a screening, the consultation of a web platform, or the navigation of the digital network´s liquid architectures. The dancing body turns into an archive: a living keeper of fragmented memories, methods, physical and perceptive forms (D. Taylor: 2002; A. Piccirillo: 2013). In this sense, the technology of the Matriarchive hosts the corporeal memory of women choreographers and performers, who seek to invent new spaces, stages, natural and virtual ´domiciles´ – chora – and to perform them across the Mediterranean, where it is possible to leave a trace of one´s own corporeal and subjective expressivity-agency.
The Mediterranean Sea, with its water and shores, hosts and engenders movements, allowing for a hybrid performative grammar, for affects and a dancing materiality to emerge. This what Erin Manning has recently called “affective-attunement”: the affective-ecological impact that a virtual, liquid, open space (milieu) exerts on the actualization of new bodily potentialities, thus engendering choreographic techniques and technologies that require ´other´ forms of archiving (E. Manning: 2013).
The creative result of such an impact is visible and accessible through the writing/cinetic and dancing language generated by Isabel Rocamora. In her Horizon of Exile (2007) Rocamora – a video-maker of Spanish origins – as an ´archon´ directs a new order of the corporeal weight, re-elaborating the law of universal gravitation as we know it, inherited and codified through the choric languages/disciplines of Western dance. Rocamora choreographs her ´veiled´ women dancers in the desert, a natural space in a state of constant transformation: here, corporeal and feminine matters escape from the law of universal gravitation to express – and poetically claim – a subtraction, a suspension, a refusal of those conditions that patriarchal society impose on the body of women.
Forms of feminine Techné are also found among some of the most interesting expressions of contemporary electronic music. Here, the sounds – and music – written, produced, danced and performed by women artists of diasporic origins inextricably relate with technical experimentation. A new expressive language is on the making– one that works simultaneously through a politics of representation (who is ´the´ woman/alien/child/girl/ancient-Egyptian/ replicant/ dancer/ hologram/face-canvas-painting that animates FKA twigs´ conceptual universe?) and through affects. Is it a sonic representation of a deserted landscape what we hear in Fatima Al Qadiri´s Desert Strike album – or is it rather an affect of a desert, i.e. the desert as a philosophical concept, as the (non)place of memory? In sound, desert empties, it carries away, it bursts out, it consumes, it is crossed by sonic body-fragments...