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23.03.2022 – 23.04.2022

Nicoline van Harskamp /// Englishes

Université du Québec en Outaouais
101, rue Saint-Jean-Bosco
Entrée portes 6 & 17
Local A-0115
Gatineau (Québec)
Canada J8X 3X7

This title, which was deliberately not translated into French, does not refer to the English (understood as a group of people who speak English, or as a group that identifies with a geopolitical context), but rather to variations in English (understood as a linguistic entity with multiple forms, subtleties and sounds). „Englishes“ is both the title of Nicoline van Harskamp’s exhibition presented at Galerie UQO from March 23 to April 23, 2022, and the title of a series of works by the artist produced between 2013 and 2016.

Nicoline van Harskamp’s series „Englishes“ (2013–2016) explores the widespread use and modification of the English language by its ‘non-native’ speakers. „Englishes“ depicts the development of the plurality of spoken English that displaces the perceived position of primacy occupied by dominant strains of the language. The work addresses the political import of this linguistic development, pointing out how our use of language is consistently entrenched in structures of class and power. Challenging these connotations, van Harskamp proposes a dissolution of English into Englishes, co-opting it as a common and ever-growing linguistic resource.

In this body of work, English is transformed from a state of language into multiple languages. When used as vernacular languages, variations of English serve a function—they facilitate communication while exposing the subtleties of its speakers’ identities. If the hegemonic nature of English seems obvious, much like its relationship to colonialism in certain geopolitical contexts, its use can also refer to economic power. In this exhibition, the Englishes become the material, object and subject of the works on view.

„Englishes“ was made possible by the Mondrian Fund (NL) and various co-producing institutions.

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