Table%201%20img 2215

Work table

Table%202%20mg 2226

Shelf with props

Table%203%20img 2236

Arrangement: prepositions words: across, against, between, left, on, off, or, under, up

Table%206img 2222

Arrangement of tables

Table%206%20img 2193

Arrangement: fruit - representations as words/images/objects words: orange, nut, apple, worm, egg, lamp, if, believe

Table%20proposimg 2248

Arrangement: prepositions

Table%207img 2155%20copy

Arrangement: tools
words: able , about , account, across , act , addition , adjustment , advertisement , after , again , against , agreement, all, almost, amusement, angle, angry, apparatus , apple , approval, argument, attack , attempt

Table%205 2171

Arrangement: cleaning utensils words:damage , danger , dark , daughter , day , dead , dear , death , debt , decision , deep , degree , delicate , dependent , design , desire , destruction , detail , development , different , digestion , direction , dirty , discovery , discussion , disease , disgust , distance , distribution , division , do , dog , door , doubt , down , drain , drawer , dress , drink , driving , drop , dry , dust


Words: through, or, best, alright


Word: time


Words: enough, exchange


Words: humor, flat, fasle


Words: question

15.10 – 19.11.2005
Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam

An installation consisting of clusters of household objects presented in tableaus, in which each object corresponds to a word. A set of 850 playing cards printed with the entire vocabulary of Basic English were used to tag the objects.

Within the duration of the show, I aimed at producing a complete photo dictionary of Basic English. Developed by linguist Charles Ogden in the 1930s as an international auxiliary language, Basic English consists of only 850 English words and a simplified grammatical structure.

The exhibition space was set up as a walk-in photo studio, equipped with a camera, a set of flash lights, tables, common household objects and 850 playing cards representing the complete vocabulary of Basic English. On the tables, objects were arranged to collections according to a predetermined logic, they were displayed as still lives, waiting to be photographed. Through the playing cards, words were temporarily linked with objects.

The installation revealed the problem of the arbitrary character of language. Only a quarter of the vocabulary is classified as “picturable words”, whilst the rest is non-picturable words, e.g. functions or abstract concepts like “God” or “freedom”. Even picturable words are hard to depict, as they are generalizations that refer to general concepts. The word “apple” refers to the concept of all apples, and not to any specific one; so do you pick a green one or a red one, an old one or a fresh one? Is there any stereotypical mental image of “the apple”? Or of “the dog”?

Over the timespan of the show, objects and words cross-pollinated: viewers were invited to play with the cards and objects. A certain poetry emerged between the object and the word. Irrational storylines developed as the initial system of order broke down and gave way to other, more complex ones. Objects acquired new meanings and associations.