Roni Gross, “Tikilluarit”
Artist: Roni Gross (New York, NY)
Title: Tikilluarit (2012)
Medium/technique(s): letterpress printed, leather bound, wood construction, waxed sewn linen
Edition size: 10
Number of pages: 12 panels
Dimensions, open: book: 6″ x 5 1/2″ x 1″ in
Dimensions, closed: 6″ x 3 1/2″ x 1″ in
The hunter teaches me to speak
I place my fingers round his neck and feel
his gorge rise – or is he swallowing
his tongue? He wants to teach me the word
for ‘welcome’. Suddenly, he’s trembling:
his larynx rumbles, then his breath is gone.
He asks me to remember those vibrations,
and, anxious as a nurse who takes a pulse,
touches my throat to judge its contortions.
Will I ever learn these soft uvulars?
I’m so eager, I forget that the stress
always falls on the second syllable.
My echo of his welcome is grotesque.
He laughs, an exorcism of guillemets,
dark flocks of sound I’ll never net, or say.
Tikilluarit speaks to the fact that language is irrepressible. The book will not lay flat. It is an intimate work that takes its scale from the human body, and contrasts it with the little known culture of Greenland, which could easily stand for any culture which is foreign to us. Learning another language means understanding the foundations of a culture, its evocative past as well as its aspirations for the future. It requires a sensativity to the body and it’s ability to make sounds .
Beginning on a potentially violent note, the book provides a a window into the desires and frustrations that come along with learning, and spreads out to include the natural world. The tightness of the binding alludes to the difficulty of learning — gaining access. The tactile sensations of handling the book, its skin, and activating the wooden sound sculpture add another component to the visual experience of reading and understanding the text.
Tikilluarit is the word for welcome in Kalaallisut, the native language of Greenland.