Abstract Translanguaging is a resource for linguistic creativity in communication and for critical engagement with one’s sociolinguistic or sociocultural reality. This article examines how translanguaging operates in two visual art installations by the contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. Square Word Calligraphy takes a visual turn on translanguaging by inventing a hybrid calligraphy that incorporates English words into the orthographic frame of Chinese. By physically tracing the alphabet through the character, viewers gain an embodied translingual experience, which encompasses an intercultural imaginary negotiating and transcending the English-Chinese divide. By contrast, Post Testament demonstrates an intralingual mode of translanguaging, whereby a biblical text is inflected with heterogeneous registers and rendered ineffectual as coherent discourse. Here the encounter and intertwining of text registers create a transformative space replete with ambiguity and mayhem. In these radical works of language art, translanguaging delineates borders while simultaneously interrogating them, creating liminal zones and articulating a politics of (mis)recognition, (un)readability, and (in)communicability.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 1, 2015