Speak no evil

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900mm x 700mm

Mixed media, polycarbonate

This work is part of a larger conversation about the colonisation of the world and what effect that has had on Humankind. The forced ownership of language has consistently played a big role in oppression and control throughout history.
‘Speak No Evil’ is the story of the "Mother Tongue”. The choice to speak your own language and also the burden of speaking it. The effectual ‘gagging’ of the people.
War, treaty and religion have collectively fought hard to ensure that the native tongue was not spoken, outlawed in many places, thought of as ‘the devils tongue’. A tactic used across the planet to disconnect local peoples communication through shame and fear. It also offered simplified hierarchal control. The church used an earlier version of control through reading and the ownership of the press to ensure only their deemed prestigious people could understand the bible; therefore only they could lead a church, teach and be one under God.
With this hierarchy, the coloniser could ensure down trodden people. People unable to learn or be accepted without the colonisers education. New Zealand’s own example, in the 1800’s te reo Māori was forbidden to be spoken at school. Personally many of my friends parents have stories about growing up and being strapped or hit for speaking te reo at school.
Growing up speaking the Māori language and then entering the western education system was a horrendous experience and one that many young Māori would not overcome comfortably or positively.
The effect of subjugation is far reaching. It spans centuries, reverberating through the following generations. Class systems, once established creating stigma, lack of confidence, pride and loss of cultural identity.