The Way It Sounds
May 12-June 12, 2021
Video in tablet 00:01:57 color, sound
The artist wrote out phonetically the U.S. oath of citizenship in her mother language (Korean), and now reads it aloud. People who live in the U.S. but haven't yet learned English do this often, using their own language to write out what words sound like and then reading them aloud.
Kwon invited participants whose mother tongue is other than English to write the Oath of Citizenship phonetically in their mother language. She subtitled the videos collected by each different language : Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Greek, German, French, Japanese, Hebrew, Italian, Hindi, Telugu . The time span when this work has been created, between February 19, 2020 and May 11, 2021, affects its reception: It is a time of a worldwide pandemic and a time of unprecedented rise in xenophobic and racist incidents together with protests and actions of resistance.
The oath of citizenship in the US is par excellence a performative speech event: on the designated day you have to be there physically and you have to move your lips and repeat the words; otherwise you cannot become a citizen.
Kwon's video performance calls attention to the many layers hidden inside this important ceremony: the foreign accent embedded in the speaking of English, the study of the constitution, and, most importantly, the disavowal of allegiance to one's country of origin, and the felt ambivalence therein. Moreover, Sojung Kwon, standing on a rooftop against a clear sky, reads aloud the written phonetic transcriptions in other languages, thus ventriloquizing other accents inevitably filtered through her Korean accent and also showing the contradictions of what one is reading, writing and listening to. In that sense, the subtitles perform the double duty of being the "script" for the artist and a visual cue to the viewer that is both revealing and opaque.
These videos are available on youtube at the following links:
Video Links :
Phonetically Subtitled in Korean _ https://youtu.be/D-tQsz4IkQU
Phonetically Subtitled in French _ https://youtu.be/O1cj05_HMMA
Phonetically Subtitled in Vietnamese _ https://youtu.be/fFM757USCNk
Phonetically Subtitled in Spanish _ https://youtu.be/djvP4SoYcAU
Phonetically Subtitled in Japanese_ https://youtu.be/yMrQSRhcCS0
Phonetically Subtitled in German _ https://youtu.be/sFftb4p7eYU
Phonetically Subtitled in Greek _ https://youtu.be/smo1u1swLOc
Phonetically Subtitled in Hebrew_https://youtu.be/RGtwko7bT98
Phonetically Subtitled in Italian_https://youtu.be/DbOT-NFdays
Phonetically Subtitled in Hindi_https://youtu.be/7wfjILPzNAM
Phonetically Subtitled in Telugu_https://youtu.be/s20CxIP0ius