Lorraine Kordecki: Words

site-specific installation
convent

"An installation of approximately ninety metal (tin) plaques, each one inscribed with a word, in four languages: Polish, Russian Czech and Serbo-Croat. Each word a prayer, a warning or a lament. Each word had been soldered, written onto the metal. Words chosen as laments include "postrádati“ – to lack or miss in Czech. The same word means suffer in Serbo-Croat and Russian Words chosen as prayers include "rozuměti“ – to understand, "blahoslaviti“ – to bless, and as warnings : "stříci se“ – to beware, "odsouditi" – to condemn, "poslouchati“ – to listen.
Etymologically, the same word in each language often has different meanings. Sometimes the meaning has a subtle difference between two or three of the languages, as "district“ in Russian becomes "vlast“ – fatherland in Czech, but it transform to "power“ , "rule“ – "authority“ and "control“ in Serbo-Croat. Do nations' histories and their psyches affect their languages? Although from the same Slavic root, these words have subtle differences of meaning, often in a nationalistic context. Often we use the same language, the same words, however the intention behind the words is sometimes very different.
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The Transparent Messenger Exhibition in 1993 in Plasy Monastery, near Plzeň, Czech Republic, was a period of the splitting apart of the Republic from Slovakia.
Formerly a Cistercian Monastery, I wanted to reflect both the period of change and the nature of the building which had been a place of prayer. I made approximately ninety pieces cut out of tin and soldered with words, prayers lamentations, warnings in Czech, Russian (their former oppressors), Polish (my second language), and Serbo-Croat, (at that point war was raging in the Balkans due to the break up of Yugoslavia), and I felt it was appropriate to include Serbo-Croat in the texts. It is probably also worth mentioning that the Cistercian Order renounced everything except writing well.
Some examples of the words translated here into English included:  Listen, Learn, Blessed, Peace / Absence of War, Truce, to Open Memory, to Understand, Candle,to Suffer, to Transform, Ruins, Ominous, to Untie."

Lorraine Kordecki, 1994


Lorraine Kordecki studied at the University of Reading, Department of Fine Art, 1991 - 1995. She lives and works just outside of London.