Lost for Words: Towards a Glossary of Reenchantment

A lecture-performance by Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson

A lecture-performance by Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson, followed by a conversation with Petra Koehle
19 February 2024, 16h30 at the EDHEA (Route de la Bonne-Eau 16, Sierre, room la chapelle)

In their new lecture-performance, artists and filmmakers Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson propose a journey through the reenchanting powers of disappearing voices and endangered languages. Drawing on a number of recent works and their current research, they seek to summon the forces of lichens, birds, knots and waves, exploring interspecies relations and forging untranslatable alliances.

Lost for Words is a multi-form project initiated by artists and filmmakers Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson that confronts the increasingly widespread phenomenon of language extinction. Languages are living organisms, each of which carries within itself an entire universe. The disappearance of a language thus entails the loss of values and a whole worldview that often only that language is able to convey and that is a vital part of the custodianship of the land. When a language dies, it is a world of interconnections that disappears, a whole ecosystem of knowledges, sensations, rituals, narratives, affects and forms of care. Beginning from digital archives and grassroots resistance programs, together with a number of books, films, artworks, field investigations, encounters and collective gatherings, the project focuses on singular cases that testify to the link between lost words and forms of life that have disappeared or are endangered and additionally focusing on areas of untranslatability, betweenness and absence. In parallel, the artists’ research intends to map out words and concepts whose meanings and usages are being captured, poisoned, or altered by the effects of extractivist capitalism, colonialism, and media, reflecting on ways they might be "healed". Adopting a transdisciplinary and decolonial approach and combining philological and anthropological co-research with speculative fabulation and performance, the project involves the composition of a Glossary of Reenchantment as well as the creation of a word clinic. In a way similar to current attempts to rewild parts of our planetary ecosystem, mortally endangered by the ravages of industrial monoculture, the artists wish to experiment with the possibility of a similar rewilding of languages through a heterogeneous, biodynamic approach that aims to foster a co-flourishing of entangled words, ecosystems, forms of life and thought from different cultures and epochs: lost words to help us re-enchant the world and recover small fragments of the living web that composes our planet.

The research project Lost for Words unfolds between August 2023 and July 2024 in dialogue with six international partners: EDHEA (Sierre), ESADMM (Marseille), Ecomuseo del Mare (Palermo), Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris), Bulegoa (Bilbao) and Fondazione Merz (Turin). It is supported by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture under the Italian Council program (12th Edition, 2023), which aims to promote Italian contemporary art worldwide.