Carrying the Songs
A story is told and recorded on Inis Mór, a small island off the West coast of Ireland. That story is retold, from person to person, travelling across Ireland and Europe, through Scandinavia to Istanbul. Along the way, it is translated, processed by peoples’ own memories, experiences and cultures. Layers are added and other layers are forgotten and let go. In parallel with the metamorphosis of this story, a drawing undergoes the same process. It starts on the Western edge of Europe and is passed from from artist to artist, participant to participant, all the way to the Eastern edge of Europe. Each participant makes changes to the drawing, so it also undergoes a gradual metamorphosis.
The game is called Chinese Whispers in English, Stille Post in German, Gluchy Telefon in Polish, Rikkinäinen Puhelin in Finnish, katkine telefon in Estonian, sugedęs telefonas in Lithuanian, Развален телефон in Bulgarian. On this scale, it is a powerful project which explores notions of memory, sense of place, language, communication and rumour, landscape and migration. It is a project which engages people from twenty different European countries in an exploration of both our commonalities and our differences while creating a collective artwork.
How does this happen?
This giant game of Chinese whispers started in the Galway Gaeltacht in March 2020. Originating on Inis Mór with a story and a drawing (as Gaeilge), it wound its way through the different Gaeltacht and English-speaking regions of Ireland, before heading out across Europe.
The story started with a young story teller Liam O Flaithearta on the island. The story has been told person to person using ZOOM, and recorded each time. As it traversed regions, it is changed dramatically and after one week was already unrecognisable from the original story. It was translated from Irish to English – and back again – sixteen times. As language is characterised by landscape and culture, it continued to change and since leaving Ireland has been told in Scots Gaelic, English, Welsh, French, Breton, Occitan, Catalan, Basque, Kikongo, Swabian, Swiss German, German, Flemish, Friesian, Danish, Swedish, Arabic, Norrsjö Bonska, Norwegian, Sami, Meänkieli, Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Mulgi, Võro, Seto, Livonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Polish, Kashubian, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, Esperanto, Slovene, Austrian German, Persian, Samburu, Italian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Kurdish.
Listen to all the stories here
The drawing was started by artist Sean O Flaithearta and is being passed via email, from one artist to another. Every time an artist makes a small change to the drawing, that change is photographed and the image uploaded on to the timeline of a gradually evolving stop-motion animated film.
Contributing Artists to date: Sean O Flaithearta, Fionnuala Hernon, Cyril O Flaithearta, Aoife Casby, Andrea Rossi, Lelia Ní Chathmhaoil, Maeve Curtis, Noelle Gallagher, Frank Monahan, Dolores Lyne, Louise Manifold, Leah Beggs, Selma Makela, Jennifer Cunningham, Angela Williams, Bernie Dignam, Margaret Irwin West, Breda Burns, Michael Geddis, Jenny Soep, Pierre Courtin, Andrea Rozorea, Emmy Dijkstra
Both the original drawing and story will disappear, being replaced by transformed versions of themselves.
throughout 29 countries
in 50 languages
23 artists so far
the adventure continues!
Inis Mór, Connemara, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Derry, Belaghy, Antrim, Belfast, Ayr, Glasgow, Kinlochleven, Orkney, Inverness, South Uist, Edinburgh, Kendal, Lancaster, Rotherham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Norwich, Chelmsford, Cambridge, London, Brighton, Brest, Concarneau, Lorient, Perigeaux, Marseilles, Paris, Lyon, Freiburg, Zurich, Munich, Kaßliz, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Friesland, Leuven, Ulm, Duisberg, Dortmund, Berlin, Fyn, Spjald, Copenhagen, Malmö, Gothenburg, Örebro, Stockholm, Umeå, Kiruna, Tromsö, Alta, Lakselv, Pajala, Karesuando, Oulo, Vaasa, Pori, Turku, Åland, Helsinki, Tallin, Mulgimaa, Võro, Seto, Livonia, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Bydgoszcz, Kaszubski, Ostrava, Prague, Brno, Bratislava, Budapest, Tatabanya, Maribor, Ljubljana, Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Milan, Palermo, Perugia, Zagreb, Rijeka, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Sofia, Plovdiv, Athens, Izmir, Erzincan, Trabzon, Istanbul.