A Light Without Shadow, No. 7_Liona Nyariri

“In the beginning there was Language, Chaos and A Wise-fool. Language, Chaos and A Wise-fool came together and decided to have a child and the child they had was named Pidgin. Pidgin was born in the deep red earth close to the earth’s core and from the moment it came into the earth and climbed out – it spoke its own tongue and wrote its own words. Its parents did not get a chance to see it, because when it climbed out of the earth, it immediately went into a cloud of red dust and disappeared again in the same cloud. All that it left behind were its words inscribed into the earth. Pidgin lay dormant in the crack of an endless chasm, waiting to bring war and peace; love and hate; firmness and fragility; innocence and guilt; grey and light. You could say its moment came when some foreigners encountered some natives and vice versa – but perhaps that would be simplifying it too much.”

Liona Nyariri’s research-based practice explores the ways in which language is created both visually and orally, with a specific focus on Pidgin languages that came from formally Anglophone colonized countries. A pidgin language happens when two or more languages meet/collide to create a third hybrid. It can also happen when a dominant language is altered or ‘remixed’ and made into another informal language. She uses mythology to explore this theme with a strong engagement in oral storytelling that forms the base of how her work is disseminated.

In this guest post, Nyariri will present an extract from the fictional tale of how one of the characters in her mythology, named Pidgin, came into the world. During this time of ‘lock-down’ all over the world it seems like Pidgins in flight are now homebound and what Pidgins will be made next remains to be seen.

Liona R. Nyariri (b. 1991) lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. She received her MFA in Fine Art from Parsons The New School of Design and completed her Whitney Independent Study Program fellowship in 2017. Her work has been presented at Cuchifritos Gallery, AC Institute, Participant Inc, Long Island City Art Fair, Gallery Momo, Cape Town Month of Photography, Young Blood Gallery, AVA Gallery, and others. She is the recipient of the ABSA Art and Life award as well as a top finalist for the Sasol New Signatures Award.