Saturday, December 5, 2009

News: Melbourne PEN

Dear Asia and Pacific PEN Centres,

I write to invite your participation and contribution to a project that i have been developing for presentation in February 2010 – the tongue-atorium, a research laboratory dedicated to all things tongue. I spoke with many of you about this project when we were in Tokyo.

The tongue-atorium is gathering anything to do with tongue, in any language – poems, recipes, quotes, images, sounds, stories, facts – scientific, linguistic etc. I’m also looking for tongue twisters in other languages and poems about the place of tongue, written in mother tongue. .. or simply poems that mention tongue. I want people to be able to taste other languages, as well as flavours.

“ Tongue” in English has extensive metaphoric resonance – tongue as language, common tongue, mother tongue etc. I am keen to find out how the word ‘tongue’ operates in other languages. If, and what are the metaphors?

I am also very keen to explore the ‘cutting out of tongue’ as a symbol for silencing, censorship. Since 2010 is the 50th anniversary of International PEN’s Writer in Prison Program, I will dedicate one aspect of the tongue-atorium to honouring writers who have been imprisoned and their writing. My aim is to name at least 50 writers, from every continent, male and female. I wonder if yourself and /or your PEN Centre would be interested in providing the name, short bio, and perhaps an excerpt of their work, of a writer or writers who have been imprisoned for their writing.

Melbourne PEN will be holding a number of events over 2010 to honour writers who have been imprisoned.We will use the names and bios that you provide, to create a poster, or display that will honour these writers for the year. I believe that we could also create an honour role on the Asia and pacific Writers Network website. So I would appreciate if you could help us with this.

I am inviting contributions to this research using a ‘word of mouth’ methodology, so would appreciate if you would pass on the invitation to anyone you feel may be interested. All contributors will be acknowledged as artist/writers and co-researchers.

The tongue-atorium will be constructed over January, so i will require all contributions as early in January as possible. It would also be very helpful if you could let me know as soon as possible what form/s your contribution might take.

I am aiming to gather some of this research and create a Special Edition for the Asia and Pacific Writers Network website.

I have attached 2 other documents – an invitation, which provides more detail about the project; and Questions of the tongue, a short survey which you may care to answer and return.

I am also inviting PEN Centres from the Asia and Pacific Region to put together an Edition of work for the Asia aand Pacific Writers Network website for 2010 or 2011. Also a reminder that a&pwn is always interested to receive your news and to publish it.

I look forward to hearing from you

warm regards

berni m janssen

Melbourne PEN Centre


questions of tongue….

1. Have you ever eaten tongue?

If yes, when, what did it taste like, who cooked it and how was it cooked and served? Who did you eat it with?

If no, would you? And if not, why not?

2. Have you ever cooked tongue? If so, how?

3. Do you know (m)any recipes for cooking tongue? If you do, could you provide the recipe/s.

4. Do you know people who cook tongue? If yes, who, how, when… An example – did your mother or father cook tongue? How was it prepared?

5. How is tongue, as a food perceived as a food amongst people you know?

6. Has tongue as a food shifted in perception in your culture over time, place?

7. What is the word for tongue in your language?

8. In English tongue can be used as another word for language? Is this the same in your first language, or other languages you speak?

9. In English, tongue is used often metaphorically eg loose tongues, cat got your tongue, mother tongue, forked tongue. Does tongue have metaphoric resonances in your language. If, yes, what are some examples.

10. Do these metaphors contribute to, inform, a cultural sensibility?

11. In English, tongue has a promiscuous ambiguity. Does this occur in your language? If yes, examples?

12. Does tongue have other ambiguities?

13. Do you know stories that are about tongue or include tongues? Mythical, historical, personal or otherwise?

14. Do you know any tongue twisters in languages other than English. What is the word for tongue twister in this language? If so, could you provide, an audio and a written version?

15. When you speak a foreign language, the sounds are unfamiliar on the tongue. How does this make you feel? Do different sounds make you feel differently?

16. Do you know of languages that use more tongue than others? Examples?

17. When you are concentrating do you ever hold your tongue in a particular way?

18. In English, the metaphor for silencing, or censorship can be cutting out one’s tongue. Does this work in your language as well. If yes, we would like to give ‘ tongue’ or voice to stories that have been ‘silenced’. If they are able to be shared, could you provide a story. An example might be of a writer who has been imprisoned for their beliefs….

An invitation… to participate in and contribute to a research project…

the tongue-atorium

Tongue-atorium: A laboratory dedicated to the research of all things tongue.

All resonances, metaphors and ambiguities intended.

(m)other tongue

taste the wor(l)d

The Tongue-atorium is a laboratory dedicated to researching the tongue as:

1. a physical entity

  • a sounding instrument
  • a tasting instrument
  • a site of exchange
  • a sensory probe
  • a visual signal eg poking out tongue
  • a food

2. A metaphor

In the English language, tongue resonates metaphorically:

  • language
  • mother tongue
  • common tongue
  • forked tongue
  • silver tongue
  • slip of the tongue
  • tongue in cheek
  • hold your tongue
  • tongue-tied
  • cat got your tongue
  • bite your tongue
  • wagging tongues
  • loose tongues
  • tongue lashing
  • tongue and groove
  • speaking in tongues
  • tongues of fire
  • tongue of land

3. Cutting out the tongue – silencing – historical and current censorship. Freedom of Speech.


The tongue-atorium houses the research collection – images, sounds, objects, texts, printed and digital material and is also a space dedicated to the ongoing investigation of tongue. All things tongue co-exist there: grotesque; sensuous; erotic; culinary; scientific; aesthetic; barbaric; poetic; kitsch and etc An environment extravagant in its obsession. What one finds poisonous another devours in delight…

  • (m)other tongue symposia will be conducted by Experts of the Tongue who will loosen tongues to shake out the subtle flavours and textures of their knowledge. Secrets of the tongue will be shared. Tongue twisting and other tongue exercises, for the tongue tied, practiced. Poems in (m)other languages learnt, tongue cooked and consumed, and tongue tales - stories, recipes, facts and fictions shared. Experts of the Tongue include: chefs; cooks; poets; translators; linguists; Chinese medical practitioners; cultural commentators; scientists; tasters; and ….
  • open sessions designated times where the tongue-atorium is open to the public and Experts of the Tongue are present and in conversation.


Tongue-atorium will be presented as part of the In Habit season, February 12– February 28 2010.

Saturday 20 February

11 am – 4pm: tongue-atorium research laboratory open for research and contributions.

4pm – 7pm (m)other tongue symposia. Bookings essential

Sunday 21 February

11- 2: (m)other tongue symposia. Bookings essential.

2 – 6pm: tongue-atorium research laboratory open for research and contributions.

Saturday 27 February

11 am – 4pm: tongue-atorium research laboratory open for research and contributions.

4pm – 7pm: (m)other tongue symposia. Bookings essential

Sunday 28 February

11- 2: (m)other tongue symposia. Bookings essential.

2 – 6pm: tongue-aroium research laboratory open for research and contributions.

Experts of the tongue will contribute to the research whilst the research laboratory is open. Details published closer to the event.

All visitors to the tongue-atorium and (m)other tongue symposia are invited to contribute to the research. Bring a story, image, sound, poem to be added to the collection.


The Scullery, Abbotsford Convent.

Research contributions.

Are you an Expert of the Tongue? Cook, chef, linguist, poet, translator, academic etc Would you be able to participate in: an Expert of the Tongue gathering ( Enoteca. 229 Gertrude St Fitzroy.)

– to cook and converse; and at least one (m)other tongue symposia ( the Symposia will be for three hours – so for around four hours, in February 2010) and perhaps an Open session conversation (over an hour). You may also need to do some preparation.

Are you interested in contributing to the research collection, of ‘all things tongue’. What that might be: image, object (from kitsch statuettes of frogs with extended tongues to Vacola jars with pickled tongues), tongue chart, tongue tie, poem, story, myth, recipe, tongue twisters (in any language) sound works, recordings, the word for tongue in any language, facts: scientific, anatomical, linguistic, culinary, odd tales. From the grotesque to the erotic, all contributions accepted. The contribution can be as small as a quote, a suggestion, a tongue-sound, a recipe or it could be a larger work. The contribution can be in a variety of media: print; audio file; video; digital, object.

I am also seeking contemporary stories to do with censorship and freedom of expression from across the world.

I am using ‘word of mouth’ as my collection methodology. So, if you know people who might be interested in contributing, let them know, and ask them to contact me.


All contributors will be acknowledged as co-researchers in full programs, publications and documentation created for the project.


This is a project that is researching cultural exchange. What is the exchange when you have been invited to contribute research, and as an arts project on limited budget, I cannot afford to pay you? What would you want in exchange? What could the exchange be?

Perhaps for Experts of the Tongue in the symposia, there is an opportunity to exchange knowledge, participate in an event that is out of their usual domain, and have fun. For some this might be sufficient. For others, what would you want in Exchange?

For people who contribute to the research collection, what is the exchange? Besides being ‘an exhibition’ of your work, or an opportunity for playful art-making or to participate. I intend to create some mementos – perhaps a small Book of Tongue (with some images and texts and sounds); some Tongue Cards (image one side and a text on the other); a tongue stamp …. and these would be given to contributors, as a mark of appreciation.

I am interested to hear people’s thoughts and suggestions, about the whole concept of ‘exchange’. This will also contribute to the research.

Time Frame

  • If you are interested in contributing, contact me with your ideas, as soon as possible.
  • Experts of the Tongue I need to have identified as soon as possible.
  • An Experts of the Tongue gathering will be held in January.
  • The Deadline for all contributions is negotiable to a degree, but from mid December 2009, preferable. (This is to enable the conceptualization and assemblage, of the tongue-atorium and other paraphernalia over January 2010)
  • February 12 – 17, 2010 (installation)
  • February 18 – 28, 2010. Presenting tongue-atorium.


berni m janssen –

ph: (03) 5343 6238

(image from Damon Kowarsky – Mask 1.)

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