A short photo-essay film by MEITS flexible funding awardee James Kent
Languages Change Lives
Following Fidel Castro’s death in 2016 and his younger brother Raúl’s retirement as president two years later, 2018 marked the end of their near six decade-long leadership of Cuba. At the beginning of the post-Castro era, therefore, this practice-based project explored the presence of iconic revolutionary images and the role of documentary photography in contemporary Cuban society, focusing on the relationship between photographic language and identity. James Kent, MEITS flexible funding awardee, worked with Cuban academics, curators and photographers to explore the links between these themes; developing collaborations, carrying out interviews and recording footage of Cuban photographers at work. The project facilitated challenge-led collaborative research around the themes of photographic language and identity and encouraged new and innovative approaches to curatorial and photographic practice involving academics, curators, photographers, students and visual artists in both the UK and Cuba.
An Alice in ‘Language Wonderland’ adventure; a ‘Lost in Translation’ untranslatable word challenge; a pool of creatures carrying words loaned to English (e.g. emoji, rucksack and graffiti); a ‘language family’ street; an ‘I Love You’ language line; and a Mr Tickle accent spotting game.
These are just some of the weird and wonderful hands-on experiences to be had in the first-of-its-kind “World of Languages” pop-up museum. Launched in Cambridge’s Grafton shopping centre for October’s half-term week, the free attraction is travelling to Belfast, Edinburgh, Nottingham and London over the next months.
In October 2018, the MEITS team delivered an event as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, which we called “Languages – Your Passport to the World”.
Our hands-on activities asked people to reflect on questions such as how languages can help the brain, and whether we make judgements about people based on their accents.
The MEITS team were delighted to engage in multilingual conversations with the 200+ people that participated, about their own personal stories of languages, and their future plans for language learning! This short video gives just a flavour of the day…
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