Mother Tongue 2019
The practice of Australian artist Caitlin Patane centres on words. She often works with texts written by others, excerpting and publishing these in the form of artist books. For Whanaungatanga, she presents Mother Tongue, a compilation of quotations from women authors and artists that explore the nature of writing and of ‘voice’ in writing. The book inevitably sets up relationships between the women cited, emphasising the fact that a kind of kinship can exist between individuals separated by gulfs of time and place. It also hints at the idea that debts and resonances can never be fully appreciated by those who write or make art, since the historical record is limited by bias and accident. We unwittingly repeat the thoughts and gestures of others, because we share languages and because we share humanity.
Copies of Mother Tongue will be available for purchase from the bookshop within Piki Mai: Up Here ^^ (on the mezzanine of The Cloud) and for perusal at the Samoa House Library Reading Room. Short extracts will be recited at 1pm daily in the Reading Room. The recitals are intended to reinforce the notion that texts, like works of art, require an audience for consummation. Patane is aware of the planned closure of specialist libraries at the University of Auckland and of Samoa House Library’s role in filling the gap that will be left by the Fine Arts Library. By having her work presented at the Reading Room, she not only signals her solidarity but also reminds us that every library closed—and every book moved offsite to the ‘stack’—threatens to curtail the voices of absent authors.
Caitlin Patane is based in Melbourne, where she is Editorial Assistant at Art+Australia. Her artistic work centres on questions of history, translation, and the social potential of language in its many forms.
Image: Caitlin Patane, Mother Tongue (cover design), 2019. Courtesy of the artist.