Teanga (2011)

Teanga (Humboldt), 2011, Mixed Media, two squawkers macaw robot toy parrots, dimensions variable.

Mixed Media, three-channel HDV video installation, dimensions variable, 2011

The two toy parrots attempt stretch the notion of alchemy through mourning the loss of language in a manner that is both pathetic and humorous. The parrots are systematically taught to recite extinct languages until the lesson gradually slips out of control. The parrots decide instead engage with each other.

"Amid the shadows of the huts in Maypures, Humboldt was shown a talking parrot. It too was a trophy of sorts....It was an old bird, a feathered survivor. But the local people insisted, "They could not understand what it said." When Humboldt asked why, he was told that the parrot "spoke the language of the Atures" The Atures language had died out among humans. It was last heard coming from a bird's beak".

-Mark Abley (1955-) in Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages (2005).