Spoken word, visual language, and the written word are the points of departure for Paraphrasing Babel.

The selected works by renowned artists and young talent present a wide-ranging representation of the effect and power of language, as well as its limitations and boundaries. In images, texts and sound compositions, the artists explore the themes of the social-political connotations of language, the way in which the media guide our thoughts and behaviour, and how language, through social and technical developments, affects communication. Bringing together the artists’ myriad approaches to the theme, this exhibition gives new insights into the scope and meaning of language.

Paraphrasing Babel is a multidisciplinary exhibition with video projections, video installations, moving graphic structures and sound artworks in the public space of the cities of Heerlen and Maastricht – two urban centres with a very diverse feel in a border region where different languages and dialects are spoken and different cultures meet. The 35 projections and ‘soundscapes’ have rarely been shown outside the confines of museums or art institutes. Their specific contents make these pieces perfect for showing in the (semi-)public domain. After all, it is on the street where different languages meet or blend and where the media and commerce are directly addressing the public. In these surroundings, the artworks engage in a direct relationship with the onlooker or passer-by and reach the public in an alternative form.

Bart van den Boom

Paraphrasing Babel is curated by: Bart van den Boom and Annet Dekker
Artistic advice: Mique Eggermont, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Jury Open Call – Intro in situ / Viewmaster: Bart van Dongen (Intro in situ), Bart van den Boom and Annet Dekker (Viewmaster)

The Viewmaster Foundation

The Viewmaster Foundation has organised video art exhibitions in public space since 2010 and relates its themes to public space and its users. The exhibition For Real (Maastricht and Hasselt, 2010) took onlookers in the public space to the fictional urban landscapes and fantasy worlds of artists. The exhibition BodyTalks (Maastricht, 2011) showed how the disciplines ‘video art’ and ‘experimental short dance film’ influence each other, how dance can be a form of language and how non-verbal communication can be choreography. Paraphrasing Babel does not centre on immediately visible body language, but rather focuses on the forms of language that are harder to distinguish, and their resulting misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Bart van den Boom