Updated: Dec 16, 2022
"Your Voices" in the Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan, created from 700 white cords, glowing lights and the music of words, is the work of contemporary British artist Es Devlin. The kinetic sculpture evokes the 700 languages currently spoken in NYC, the most linguistically diverse place on the planet. A phrase from E.M. Foster’s novel Howard’s End - “Only connect, and live in fragments no longer” - has been translated into multiple languages, from Alsatian, Arabic, and Ashanti - through French, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish - to Zapotec, Zarma, and Zulu. The work has been made in association with the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA).
The work is stunning in the simplicity of materials being used, and yet the complexity of its overall impact. Straps of white tape are connected to ellipses and circles composing a network of interconnections. A rhythmic, continuously changing work evokes Wade Davis’s observation: “Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.” Every language contributes to our shared cultural riches. The revolving sculpture went on display Tuesday, Dec. 6, and will remain open until Dec. 18. On the evenings of December 11, 16, 17, and 18 at 6 p.m. there will be free choir performances by the New York-based multilingual singing groups, including Cardinal Hayes Singers, the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, Ukrainian Village Voices, and Our Chorus NYC. More info on Lincoln Center's website.
Photos Grażyna Drabik
Esmeralda “Es” Devlin (b. in Kingston upon Thames, London, 1971) is an artist and stage designer, known for the innovative use of light and large-scale multi-media collaborative projects. She studied English literature at Bristol University and Fine Art at Central St. Martins, specializing in theatre design. Her work for theatre won three Olivier Awards and her design for shows of Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Adele several Emmys. Her TED Talk in Vancouver in 2019 entitled “Mind-blowing stage sculptures that fuse music and technology” was selected as one of the best of the year.
The interactive map prepared by ELA details every language and the location of its speakers within the city: https://languagemap.nyc