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Simultaneous Speech, 2008


Performance (Uni theatre, Regensburg) ‚?? Data recovery


With its performative and technical characteristics performance of Simultaneous Speech recalls the scenes of the speeches of world leaders at the UN or at some international political conference where the speaker is attended by tens of interpreters to make sure that every listener, no matter what his or her country, understands the contents of the speech. With all the institutional effort to overcome the Tower of Babel syndrome, in fact in similar situations one can never examine how much and to what extent such a speech and its signifiers are understood in each one of the translated languages. In Simultaneous Speech 12 interpreters sitting deployed over a stand behind the speaker in fact do not translate his speech, but instead read out 12 different texts. These texts are transcripts of speeches that in various historical moments and on various occasions were made by famous 20th century artists and politicians. The contents are dislocated with respect to the original linguistic, geographical and cultural contexts and driven into those languages in which their original meaning can be understood or interpreted differently. Although performance is visually and structurally staged so as to suggest the discourse of high international politics, Simultaneous Speech in fact sets up a situation in which languages and discourses are so mixed up that they no longer correspond to their linguistic and discursive communities.
Marinetti‚??s Futurist Manifesto is spoken in Swahili, Gandhi‚??s speech in German, one of Joseph Beuys in Hindi, Duchamp‚??s lecture in Chinese, the statement of Osama bin Laden in Spanish, and so on. The speech that, at the rostrum in front of the stand on which the interpreters are deployed, the artist himself delivers in Croatian, is a transcript of the speech of a member of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia Sreń?ko Bijeliń? from the 8th cession of the CC of the LCY held in Belgrade in 1963. In it, in line with the time and the ideological framework that determined the political system of the Yugoslavia of the time, each information unit, datum, proposal, proposition or conclusion is wrapped up in phrases and constructions the sole aim of which is to underline the speaker‚??s ideological correctness. In the centre of the whole event then there is an empty space, a speech that is spoken in order to say nothing, discourse without content. The simultaneous interpreting of this text given by the 12 interpreters on the stand are on the other hand crammed with sense, meaning and radical ideas, but since by definition simultaneous speech is a dialogue in which the partners all speak at the same time, it means, as such, an aberration from the communicational standard. In short, while the speaker says too little, the interpreters say too much.