New York City is the most linguistically diverse place in the world with more than 700 languages spoken here.
A new massive, moving sculpture installed on Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza celebrates that diversity in an intriguing way.
In their piece, artist Es Devlin incorporated 700 glowing cords to represent those 700 languages—Algerian Arabic, Alsation, Azeri, Ashanti, Zapotec, Zarma and Zulu among others—and positioned them between structural arcs that glow and revolve around as a multilingual soundscape plays.
As it moves, it acts as a lens between the viewer and their surroundings, according to Lincoln Center.
“The viewer’s perspective is spliced and framed by the shifting strands of the sculpture as it turns, evoking the way our perspectives are enriched and shaped by experiencing the linguistic structures and identities of others, amidst a soundscape composed by the contemporary composers, Polyphonia, in which the powerful text from EM Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End has been translated into multiple overlaid languages: ‘Only connect, and live in fragments no longer.’”
Overall, the work is a response to anthropologist Wade Davis’s observation, “Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.”
Titled “Your Voices,” the sculpture was commissioned by Moët & Chandon and made in association with the Endangered Language Alliance, which has created a cool interactive map showing every language in NYC and the location(s) of where they are spoken.
To celebrate the holiday season, connection and diversity, Moët & Chandon with Lincoln Center are hosting live performances around the world. Here in NYC, a series of New York-based choral groups, representing the unique voices and languages in NYC, will perform live from within the sculpture on select evenings at 6pm.:
- December 6: Cardinal Hayes Singers, The Jalopy Chorus, and the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus
- December 9: Cardinal Hayes Singers, The Jalopy Chorus, and the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus
- December 10: Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, Ukrainian Village Voices, and the Cardinal Hayes Singers
- December 11: Cardinal Hayes Singers, Our Chorus NYC, and the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir
- December 16: Ukrainian Village Voices, Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, and Our Chorus NYC
- December 17: Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, The Jalopy Chorus, and Our Chorus NYC
- December 18: Ukrainian Village Voices, Our Chorus NYC, and the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.