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Nicoline van Harskamp to address the future of the English language at BMW Tate Live Performance Room

The versatile variations and the future of the English language will be explored at BMW Tate Live Performance Room on September 19. The live online performance, “English Forecast”, masterminded by artist Nicoline van Harskamp, will shed light on how English is gradually changing in the modern world.

Started in 2012, BMW Tate Live is a four-year partnership between BMW and the Tate Modern art gallery, revolving around art, culture, music and theatre. The curated project comes as a series of live events such as live web broadcast, seminars, workshops and in-gallery performances to name a few.

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Pic.: Nicoline van Harskamp, “European English Exercise” 2013. Performed by Dawn Mastin, staged and recorded for a project by Bea de Visser (click to enlarge)

The next Performance Room is the “English Forecast” performace, dedicated to the English language. The project is developed by Nicoline van Harskamp, an Amsterdam-based artist who explores the role of spoken language within political realities. For the project, she has studied the evolution of the most commonly used cross-border language, English, as its classic daily form has been profoundly influenced by countless dialects and new forms of communication across the globe. She conducted a careful research on possible future of spoken English, trying to make the most accurate prediction about how English will transform in the coming years.

Without sharing much detail on the project, BMW notes thata team of actors, with different mother tongues, will perform this language, and online audiences are invited to participate by repeating what they hear.” The company also adds that the vocal exercise will include the full range of consonants and vowels of the International Phonetic Alphabet. To write the script for the video and performance pieces, Mrs. van Harskamp has analyzed footage of public discussions, presentations and debates, various records of conversational writing as well as other related material, openly available or generated for the project.

Tate describes the upcoming project as Nicoline van Harskamp’s attempt to study the power of the spoken English language as it will move through the decades. “Given its re-deployment as the world’s most commonly used cross-border language, Van Harskamp appeals to emancipate English from its roots in the British and American empires, as well as from professional jargon. The native speaker may disappear and a language of non-standards may emerge, the expressive abundance of which will be well worth exploring,” Tate states.

Nicoline van Harskamp is calling volunteers to contribute to the project with their voices, literally. Visitors to Tate Modern, who are Non-native English speakers, are invited for a one-to-one 10-20 minute interview by the artist on August 15–1, 10.00–18.00. Volunteers will be asked a few questions like “Does the language affect the way you act or think?” and “How will English sound in 2063” to name a few. The contributors don’t have to be excellent English speakers. The interview will be recorded in audio in the Starr Auditorium. This audio footage will be used as a study material for a team of actors who will perform the final piece in September for an international audience online.

The piece will be broadcast live and internationally at 20.00 on September 19, across world time zones at youtube.com/user/tate/tatelive.

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