Through Language is a public art project, a visual dictionary and site-specific glossary alternating between Arabic, German and Hebrew.
The project was carried out in two places in Israel – in Jerusalem and in Jaffa – employing Arabic and Hebrew transcriptions and translations. It was a response to the widespread practice of Israeli extremists who erase the Arabic language from street signs, using stickers or spray paint , and to the state practices of Palestinian cultural oppression through marginalizing and under-privileging Arabic, an official language in Israel. The Arabic words, constitute keys to stories, memories, hopes and fears, which, for the most part are heard only inside private homes, without having presence in the public sphere or its discourse. The idea is to allow Arabic a presence in our public life. We would like to promote the cultural presence of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the native people and culture upon whose destruction our state is built, and to express our wish to become culturally integrated in the Middle East.
Giving the Arabic and the Hebrew languages presence in the public sphere in Europe may evoke questions relating to the presence of our languages and culture within Europe. We hope to question the current tendency of the Western world to perceive the Arabic and Hebrew languages and culture as a threat and thus refer to the constant uprising of xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in Europe. It also proposes language and culture as an arena for listening and engaging in dialogue with the other. AugartenStadt was not chosen by chance; as “verlorene Insel (lost island)” it was the main scene of Jewish displacement in 1938 – and as a site of new migration, it is the space of current conflicts between populism, xenophobia and Muslim self-assertion.