Tranny Tease (pour Marcel)

The conversion of a language from one script to another is a routine act of alphabet penitence. The reason we do so hurriedly—with a dose of chagrin, holding our noses, on the back of a scrap of paper—stems in part from transliteration’s maligned status. One thing is clear: translation it is not. Alas, transliteration is the trashier younger sibling of translation, its more prestigious, older sister.

Tranny Tease (pour Marcel), 2009–ongoing.

Tranny Tease (pour Marcel), installation view of “Mouth to Mouth", 2017. CCA Ujazdowski.
Dig the Booty. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2009.

A transliteration of an aphorism across Latin, Cyrillic and Persian scripts, Dig the Booty pays homage to the vicissitudes of the Azeri alphabet which changed 3 times over the past century: from Arabic to Latin in 1929, from Latin to Cyrillic in 1939, only to go back to Latin in 1991.
ωΧΧΧ. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2013.

Meaning ‘oops’, ωΧΧΧ (or ‘okh’) is an example of linguistic and cultural transmission, with the great omega’s sassy side highlighted by the proximity of a gang of X, for a particularly attractive alliterative stuttering. Not by coincidence, the X is a Cyrillic and Greek letter for Slavs and Tatars’ signature guttural phoneme, [kh], and subject of their 2012 publication Khhhhhhh.
ööps. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2013.

One of the principal arguments for changing the Turkish script from Arabic to Latin—the inability of the Arabic alphabet to accommodate the full range of vowels in Turkish, namely the ü and ö—is here served up equally as the high and low humor of a slapstick. A lengthened version of the word ‘kiss’ in Turkish, the vowel change is presented here as equal parts typo or editing error, modernist mini-miracle—if not metaphysical mishap.
Mountains of Wit. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2014.

Горе от Ума (Woe from Wit ) is a famous 19th-century play about Moscow manners by Aleksander Griboyedov, the Tsar’s plenipotentiary to the Caucasus and Iran. By changing the E in the original Russian title to an Ы, a quintessentially Russian letter, the title becomes Mountains of Wit and the urban premise of the original work is hijacked by a Caucasian setting equally imaginative and apposite, one which played an influential role in Griboyedov’s life and death.
To Mountain Minorities. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2014.

A surgical rewriting of the original Georgian expression Chven Sakartvelos Gaumardjos roughly translated as “Long Live Georgia". By changing the a of Sakartvelos to a u to make Sakurtvelos, the phrase becomes ’Long Live Kurdistan’ and the unresolved geopolitical identity of one mountain people is replaced by that of another.
To Beer or Not To Beer. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2014.

An attempt to elevate the dregs of college humour via a transliteration into Arabic, the sacred script of Islam, To Beer or Not To Beer rescues the existential gravitas of the original Shakespearean query: to imbibe alcohol entails a complex web of religious, cultural if not phenomenological questions around identity.
Holy Bukhara. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2014.

A moving example of the syncretism – be it linguistic, religious, or ideological – found in Central Asia, Bokhori yeh Sharif is an homage to the Jews of Central Asia, aka Bukharan Jews, whose language (Boxori) provides an unlikely collision of Persian dialect with Hebrew script.
The Alphabet. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2015.

The Alphabet revisits Broodthaers’ Poèmes industriels, replacing the Latin alphabet with an Arabic one. The original exclamation of OK! survives unscathed, despite the transmogrification from the secularized world of Latin to the sacred script of Arabic.
Jęzzers język. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2015.

Jęzzers język, pronounced “yowzers yewzik”, celebrates the nasal phonemes specific to the Polish language through a retro-exclamation. Unlike any other Slavic language, the Polish language has prominent nasal phonemes–ą and ę. These letters have provided an unlikely source of self-determination and resistance in the face of pan-slavism, Russian imperialism, and other threats.
Dschihad. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2015.

A slippage of scripts suggests a verb, an action, and yet another meaning to the already-loaded terms of jihad and Warsaw. The past participle had and saw disarticulate the traditional signage associated respectively with a mediatized term such as Jihad and a city devastated by war. The awkwardness of four consecutive consonants–to approximate the [d͡z] phoneme in German–highlights the term Dschihad as irrevocable foreign or Other.
Made in Germany. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2015.

The renowned mark of quality was used to mock Germany’s behind-the-scenes role in the declaration of jihad or holy war, by the Ottoman Sultan, against the Entente Powers during WWI. Arabic letters phonetically spell out the moniker using a military alphabet devised by the Ottoman minister of war, Enver Pasha (1881–1922) in 1913 for use in wartime correspondence. An early precursor to script reforms, its separation of the Arabic letters into distinct graphemes was thought to facilitate the reading and writing of Ottoman Turkish.
OdByt. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2015.

A nod to Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde, OdByt plays on the Polish word for ‘rectum’ which reads literally as “from being.” Meaning ‘from’ in several Slavic languages, the preposition ot used to exist in old Church Slavonic as a Cyrillic letter unto itself: Ѿ.
Kwas ist das. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2016.

A fermented drink made from rye, Kwas or Kvass is a traditional Slavic and Baltic drink which has of late been promoted as an indigenous response to Coca-Cola and other imported soft-drinks. The line dividing Slavic and Germanic peoples has long been a mobile one, shifting east or west as a result of wars, treaties, and migrations. Kwas ist das combines the two languages in one, offering a linguistic amalgam in lieu of conflict, one that essentially amounts to WTF.
Saturday. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2016.

The text on both sides of the piece reads: manumissio, which was the act or document freeing a slave. According to the Hebrew bible, slaves were to be freed in the 7th year, aka the Saturday or Shabbat year, after 6 years of labor, regardless of their origin, performance, profile, etc. Given the historical contingency of Jews throughout history, from the Exodus to pogroms to diaspora, this was a rather progressive if not generous approach to a contentious issue esp compared with their contemporaries.
Coo Coo 4 Kumis. Vacuum-formed plastic, acrylic paint, 64 x 91 cm, 2016.

Made from fermented mare’s milk and found across Central Asia, kumis was called milk-champagne and even cosmos by the first European travelers to the Mongolian steppe. Not only is mare’s milk hard to come by, its usage as a cure for mystery illnesses further proferred the drink a cult status in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Afteur Pasteur

Towarzystwo Szubrawców

Qit Qat Qlub

AÂ AÂ AÂ UR

Mirrors for Princes (Book)

Mirrors for Princes (Show)

Love Letters

Ezan Çılgıŋŋŋŋŋları

The Naughty Nasals (Show)

Naughty Nasals (Book)

Lektor

Tranny Tease (pour Marcel)

Marker

Kitab Kebab

Long Legged Linguistics

Friendship of Nations (Book)

Beyonsense

Never Give Up The Fruit

Molla Nasreddin the antimodern

Khhhhhhh (Show)

Khhhhhhh (Book)

Reverse Joy

Régions d’être

Not Moscow, Not Mecca (Show)

Not Moscow, Not Mecca (Book)

PrayWay

Mystical Protest

Triangulation

The Age of the Antimodern

Molla Nasreddin

Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz

Dear 1979, Meet 1989

79.89.09 (Publication)

A Monobrow Manifesto

When in Rome

Love Me, Love Me Not (Installations)

Love Me, Love Me Not (Book)

Idź na Wschód! Go East!

Hymns of No Resistance

Resist Resisting God

Kidnapping Mountains (Show)

Kidnapping Mountains (Book)

Rebuilding the Pantheon

A Thirteenth Month Against Time (Book)

Nations

Drafting Defeat: 10th century Roadmaps, 21st century Disasters

Slavs

Tbilisi