Extinct letters / Kadonneet kirjaimet

/ 2015

Concept: Marion Robinson / Liiketila art collective
Typography: Marion Robinson
Execution: Marion Robinson, Elina Koskelainen

Extinct letters, Komi-Zyrian
Black sand

The installation shows the fragility and ever-changing nature of language, specifically the endangered finno-ugric languages of today. These languages have undergone major orthographic transformations and are in jeopardy of extinction for several reasons: some are only spoken by a few elders, most are under pressure for the right to have and hold their own native language.

In more detail, Extinct letters investigates the transformations of the Komi-Zyrian dialect. In the past 100 years Komi-Zyrian underwent three major orthographic changes where some of the original characters have either been modified, or have completely rendered useless.

The spatial installation is made of sand. Stone is an everlasting material that, like language, constantly evolves. But the change is not instant, it takes years in the making for it to be recognised. It will be a tangible, yet fragile experience for the exhibition viewer. Placed on the floor, it welcomes the risk of direct transformation, or interruption by visitors accidentally interacting with it, displacing or destroying the characters.

The work is part of a collaboration between Liiketila art collective and the National Library of Finland, Digitization Project of Kindred Languages.

Exhibition history
Travelling letters - Typography exhibition
Titanikas gallery, Vilnius Academy of the Arts,
Vilnius, Lithuania
5th November to 31st December 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Vilnius, Lithuania
April 2016

5.11.2015 Language in motion – working with Finno-Ugric languages.
Lecture by Marion Robinson at Travelling Letters 2015 conference
Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania

LTR – Lithuanian National Television reportage from Travelling Letters exhibition opening (YouTube)

I would like to thank: Juri Karinen, Jack Rueter