Central to this book are scripts by Nicoline van Harskamp, for the video work PDGN and a series of staged works titled My Name Is Language. Speech is the medium and the main topic of both of these works, that treat names as spoken language rather than spelled identity markers. A scholar of literary arts and performance culture, Avishek Ganguly reflects in his essay “Global Englishes, Rough Futures” on questions of translation, incomprehension, and untranslatability in van Harskamp’s work. The book also includes a list of text-change algorithms that van Harskamp calls “distorters” and an excerpt from Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) by Marge Piercy.
Fixed in corporate and state systems more firmly than numeric tax IDs or IP addresses, names are generally no longer treated as language, but as lexically opaque formulas. In their indifference to language diversity, authorities are known to rephrase, reorder, and re-alphabetize names when they don’t fit their administrative standard. They are also known to deny rights to people who have no “name label.”
In the fictive worlds represented in this book, society is not centralized, not oversized, and self-naming is brought forward as a form of self-empowerment and resistance.
First part of Achim Lengerer/Scriptings’ reader series Political Scenarios which aims to publish carefully selected scripts and texts by artists that refer neither to academic forms nor to purely literary forms of writing, but rather embed “text” as a fully integral part of contemporary political and visual art practice.