My Name on Your Lips (sounds so foreign)
My Name on Your Lips (sounds so foreign) juxtaposes audio appropriated from Lesson One of the Elementary Modern Standard Arabic audiocassette workbook, recordings from my daily environment documenting the many different ways my name is pronounced by the people around me, and two rituals performed for the camera in my apartment, to create a self-reflexive two-channel video installation that examines the often uncomfortable process of recognizing my identity as less or more than entirely American, catalyzed in the moment of studying Arabic as an adult and literally learning a new pronunciation of my own name. In the first projection, I inscribe my name in Arabic (one of the few words I have always known how to write in this language that I somehow feel should be my own) into the workbook of the iconic EMSA text, then repeat it in the lipliner shades of pink, orange and red on the cheesecloth panels onto which become the video’s screen in the installation. In the second projection, I prepare my lips to speak that name, a task not without its complications, by applying the same lipliners to my lips, pulling the colors off with the backs of my hands and wiping them on my slip, which I then slit in two to become the screen for this projection in the installation. The slip and panels are suspended from the ceiling with transparent fishing line and the shavings from my sharpening of the lipliner pencils are scattered on the floor beneath.