Amélie Mourgue d'Algue

PhD Work

BELONGING IN MOTHER TONGUES

This research started with a concern with the ways the encounter between mother tongue and a second language is consciously and unconsciously enunciated and enacted in contemporary art practices and in the works they produce. The fast changing political atmosphere in the United Kingdom impelled me to reflect on the relationship between the language(s) in which one speaks and one’s sense of belonging and on the mutual dependence of the notions of mother tongue and home. I reformulated the research question to ‘what does it mean to belong?’ and ‘when does one feel at home?’. I propose that one feels one belongs, one feels at home, when one is able to speak to, be listened to and understood by others, a proposal which has enabled me to reassess the maternal of language through the responses I developed in my own practice. 

Julia Kristeva’s writings on the speaking subject and the signifying practice of the text have been a constant reference in my research. However, my encounter with Barbara Cassin’s writings on the mother tongue took me away from considerations of the subverting influence of the pre-linguistic on the integrity of language as theorised in Kristeva’s Revolution in poetic language  towards an engagement of language as always already unstable in relation to other languages. Through this approach, I propose a reassessment of the maternal in language: rather than a maternal fixed in the nativist representation embedded in the expression  ‘mother tongue’, a language is ‘maternal’ when it becomes a dynamic holding environment  that enables the subject to come to speaking to, be listened to and understood by others.

I have asked these questions and produced responses in a language that is not my mother tongue, in the constant to and fro between English and French, the language in which I grew up and was educated and in encounters with others’ tongues through a social practice, working with the poetic, emotive, reflexive and phatic function of the word, and of the photographic image. 

The experience of belonging is connected to the practice of place. Over the past four years, I have developed my research in between three different kinds of places: the fine art research seminar room at the Royal College of Art and other academic places, conversing with fellow researchers who live in between languages, the Masbro community centre in Hammersmith, London and my home, the place where I live with my family, welcome my relatives and friends and develop my work.

I define a place not so much as a static site but as a ‘dynamic meshwork of relations’, ‘an entanglement’,  ‘where beings grow along and “issue force” along the lines of their relationships’ in the words of Tim Ingold. During this research project, I have produced visual and textual works that respond to the question of what it means to belong in an art practice that operates through relation and occurs socially , in the particular locality of ‘place’ and focuses on that which constitutes relations through the development of interaction, participation and collaboration.

Info

  • Amélie Mourgue d'Algue
  • PhD

    School

    School of Arts & Humanities

    Programme

    Arts & Humanities Research, 2013–2018

  • Amélie Mourgue d’Algue creates situations that enable ‘thinking together’. She works with the poetic, emotive, reflexive and phatic functions of the word, written and spoken, and of the photographic image, still and moving, developing possible responses to questions developed in conversation with others. Her Paris and London based virtual and physical platform, the Invisible Hours Bureau / Bureau des Heures Invisibles, will host individual and collective thought experiments around migration, monetization and value.

  • Degrees

  • PhD Fine Art Practice, Royal College of Arts, 2018; MFA Art Writing, Goldsmiths University, London, 2012; BA Fine Arts, Central Saint Martins, London, 2009; Foundation in Art and Design, Central Saint Martins, 2003; Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po Paris), 1991
  • Exhibitions

  • Home? 2015-2017, Masbro Community Centre & Hammersmith and Fulham Artsfest, London (2017); Even more so, Daybreak Live, Theatre of Reading and Speaking, Royal College of Art, London (2017); Home? Work in Progress, Masbro Community Centre & Hammersmith and Fulham Artsfest, London (2016); Plurality of Languages, collective performance, Translation - Friendship, CopyPress Readers’ Union and the Austrian Cultural Forum, London (March 2016); Plurality of Languages, collective performance, Translation and Everything in Between, Institut Français, London (2015); Plurality of Languages, collective performance, Why should I lie?, Royal College of Art, London (2015); Entre-Deux, diephaven Festival, Curator, Newhaven, Dieppe (2013-2014); Peter and the Wolf, Conversation with Adrian Rifkin and Frank Leibovici, The Art Writing Library, South London Gallery, London (2013); Things that must be seen to be seen, collective performance, My Night with Philosophers, Institut Français, London (2013); Figuring Non-Division, writing and reading with Federico Campagna, Launch of Idioglossia, an art writing glossary, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012); Responsibility, performance, Art Writing Seminar Series, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012); 121 propositions, video, And There it is, , 21st Century Event, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2011); Shopspace, Transition Gallery, London (2010); The Trouble with Women, Group Show, Menier Gallery, London (2010); Changeling, Group Show, Camberwell’s Art Bar, London (2010); Drawing Affinities, Group Show, Menier Gallery, London (2008)
  • Conferences

  • Plurality of Languages, collective performance, Writing: An International Conference in Artistic Research, Society for Artistic Research, the Hague, Netherlands (April 2016); Things that must be seen to be seen, Presentation and performance, an example of the effect of bilingualism on creative practice, Multilingual French Identity Conference, University of Lancaster, Lancaster (2014)
  • Publications

  • Amélie Mourgue d'Algue in Schjonby, N &Haugen, H eds. (2017), Flying Letters, Leserom, Reading Room,Tekstbyraet, Oslo, Norway; Towards an Ethics of Plurality in Le Couteur, P & Haslam eds, S (2015), Why would I lie?, Royal College of Art Research RCA; Figuring Non-Division in Noonan-Ganley, J ed. (2012). Idioglossia. The Art Writing Guild; Mourgue d'Algue, A (2011). Things that must be seen to be seen and other stories. Self-publication. Edition of 50.