Mother Tongue | The Immigrant Artist Biennial Virtual Exhibition

As part of the Immigrant Biennial 2020: Here, Together!, Furen Dai (Alum Berlin ’20) is showing their works Federal Census (Nativity and Mother Tongue) and Federal Census (Health), in the virtual exhibition Mother Tongue.

Photo Credit- Eli Klein Gallery

Furen Dai writes the following about their participating works Federal Census (Nativity and Mother Tongue) and Federal Census (Health):

‘The United States census, mandated in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, is the process of collecting, compiling, analyzing, evaluating, publishing, and disseminating statistical data on the population that takes place every 10 years. Furen Dai’s series Federal Census is based on her research on U.S. census reports from 1790-2010. In the work, which questions census methodology, she has identified, compared, and presented eight categories: health, nativity and mother tongue, race, personal information, citizenship, education, occupation, and others. By comparing how the language of the form changes every ten years, the work presents an overview–or narrative–of the national operating system, uncovering cultural bias within the governmental apparatus and showing how power is yielded under the guise of data collection.’ – Furen Dai

Mother Tongue

The exhibition is described by the following quote from bell hooks: “like desire, language disrupts, refuses to be constrained within boundaries. It speaks itself against our will, in words and thoughts that intrude, even violate the most private spaces of mind and body.”

Speaking, reading, and writing in one’s mother tongue can provide comfort and community, a sense of belonging in a foreign land. Using the mother tongue to revive folklore and oral storytelling is also a way to honor family and heritage. In the public sphere, however, governments and institutions employ language to reduce, reject, and undermine marginalized populations. In the cultural field, language-based artworks, protest signs, and community organizing serve as powerful tools to call out injustices. Technology increasingly facilitates our use of language, allowing us to communicate with the stroke of a finger, but also interferes with the subtle nuances of oral and physical language. The selected artists in Mother Tongue, chosen from a diverse pool of open call applications received from immigrant artists across the U.S., present a visual lexicon of language marked by translation, assimilation, and belonging. Their works chart the influence of imperialism, migration, and time. (via. TIAB)

Photo Credit- Eli Klein Gallery



The Immigrant Biennial (TIAB) 2020: Here, Together!
October 16th – December 18th 2020

  • Mother Tongue
    Co-curated by Mary Annunziata, Allison Cannella, Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, Katya Grokhovsky
    Artists: Ferguson Amo, Mahsa Biglow, Sera Boeno, Carolina Casusol, Cecile Chong, Furen Dai, Priyanka Dasgupta & Chad Marshall, Priscilla Dobler Dzul, Matilda Forsberg, Nina Ghanbarzadeh (Afkhamian), Yikui (Coy) Gu, Luma Jasim, Tiri Kananuruk, Marina Kassianidou, Cecilia Kim, Marina Leybishkis, Stefana McClure, Rodrigo Moreira, Renana Neuman, Sari Nordman, Kasia Ozga, Dafna Rehavia, Katreen Sorokina, Tereza Swanda, Johanna Strobel, Hui-Ying Tsai, Tansy Xiao, Haksul Lee & Natsuki Takauji, Tao Wei

About Furen Dai

Furen Dai’s practice has focused largely on the economy of the cultural industry, and how languages lose function, usage, and history. Dai’s hybrid art practice utilizes video, sound, sculpture, painting, and installation. Her years as a professional translator and interest in linguistic studies have guided her artistic practice since 2015. She has presented her work at the National Art Center, Tokyo and the Athens Digital Arts Festival, Greece. She has participated in residencies, including International Studio and Curatorial Programs, Art OMI, NARS Foundation, and has received public art commissions from The Art Newspaper (2019) and Rose Kennedy Greenway (2020).