June 27, 2022

Father Tongue

July 7 – July 16, 2022.
(Closed on Sunday, July 10.)

Father Tongue  is a newly commissioned video work by artist and curator Hannaa Hamdache, hosted by the Exhibition Research Lab. The work speaks of what it means to sit in between two cultures through the use of language. It presents an alternative example of what it looks like to be the confluence of two cultures: to be mixed-heritage.

This moving image piece uses the spoken word to address the artist’s own personal experience of being British and Algerian. The English language (her mother tongue) is used to explore these ideas, but it is in Arabic (her father tongue) that these words are shared.

The words are performed by the artist – it is her mouth that we see moving – but it is the voice of another that can be heard. A translator speaks the words in a language that the artist cannot.

Father Tongue plays with the feeling of something missing, with the inadequacy and shame felt for not being able to perform one’s identity as expected: to have had a linguistic inheritance stripped away by colonial tongues. Father Tongue investigates the consequences of when integration is prioritised over preservation, yet simultaneously celebrates the joy and defiance that comes from being born of two cultures.

Hannaa Hamdache is an artist and curator of mixed English and Algerian heritage. Based in Nottingham, UK, she holds a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and Art History from Kingston University London and an MLitt in Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) from the Glasgow School of Art. She works to make the arts open for all through the use of humour and education. Her practice explores the idea of play: playing with context, the exhibition and the everyday.

Currently, she is investigating her own personal context and heritage through family archival photographs. She is part of Lumina Collective based at Backlit Gallery, Nottingham and a member of the Creative Thinktank at UK New Artists.

Hamdache has delivered curatorial projects working with Glasgow City Council and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow; Somerset House and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London; and Soho House Museum in Birmingham.

Father Tongue is part of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2022 programme, hosted at the ERL as part of a new relationship between the organisations.

Founded in 1998, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is the UK’s longest-running annual Arab arts and culture festival, platforming the best UK and international Arab artists on a yearly basis. The festival creates a dynamic between traditional and contemporary Arab artforms, encouraging informed debate that explores, and increases, appreciation of Arab people and their rich cultures.

More information about the festival, and the work it undertakes throughout the year can be found here.