Es Devlin creates a kinetic sculpture celebrate linguistic diversity of New York

Es Devlin creates a kinetic sculpture to honor the linguistic diversity of New York
Es Devlin/Moët & Chandon, Courtesy of Lincoln Center

Commissioned by Moët & Chandon, Es Devlin creates “Your Voices” kinetic sculpture to celebrate people connection and diversity.

In the spirit of the holiday season, Moët & Chandon is organizing a series of global celebrations in more than 20 cities around the world, bringing people together to celebrate connection and diversity. All the towns, especially New York, have a long-standing relationship with Mason. For the occasion, Moët & Chandon launched “Your Voices”, a public sculpture by British contemporary artist Es Devlin, installed at Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza to celebrate cultural ties in the most linguistically diverse place in the planet, New York, where more than 700 languages are currently spoken.

The dynamic sculpture is comprised of 700 luminous strings representing the 700 languages currently spoken in New York City, which are stretched in a series of structural arcs, enveloping the viewer in a swirling illuminated web as they spin north, south, east and west through multilingual support. Soundscapes that include languages from all over the city: from Algerian Arabic, Alsatian, Azeri and Ashanti to Zapotec, Zarma and Zulu.

The book responds to the observation of anthropologist Wade Davies: “Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.

As the sculpture rotates, it acts as a lens between the viewer and their surroundings. The viewer’s perspective is divided and framed by the changing strands of the sculpture as it bends, the way our perspectives are enriched and shaped by the experience of others’ linguistic structures and identities, a soundscape composed by composers contemporaries, polyphony, including EM Forster’s 1910 novel Howards Fin. The powerful text of is translated into several overlaid languages: “Only connect, and live in fragments no longer.”

Every language is a vast library of cultural, historical, and biological knowledge accumulated over centuries, and New York is a living language library. The brilliant tone of this work aims to draw our attention to the complex beauty of New York’s linguistic diversity and to celebrate its vital role in the resilience and civic sustainability of the city and its future. The work was carried out in collaboration with the Endangered Languages Alliance. Their interactive map details the location of each language and its speakers in the city:

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