• Werner Tornow
  • Hans Spaethe
  • Ilse Glauert geb. Speathe
  • Eduard Glauert
  • Gila Tornow
  • Erica Tornow geb. Wasserfall
  • Gunther Tornow
  • Margarethe Wasserfall
  • Helene Spaethe
About This Project

Speaking Silence

Everyday language is part of the human organism,
and in no way less complex than the latter.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

„Speaking Silence“
Calligraphy / Chinese ink on paper
56 x 72 cm
since 2014

How do « big » and « little » history interweave ? How does language determine who we are ? « Speaking Silence » is a personal research of my family origins which are German, Polish and Ukrainian. Every portrait shows a member of my family. In these calligrammes, each line is text. Those texts tell the stories of my ancestors, over several generations, showing similarities and differences, what’ said and what remains unsaid. I didn’t know most of these persons, what I say is resolutely subjective, filtered by what I remember being told about them : most traces were lost during World War II and the following silence of those who survived. The opposing thexts are historical facts. So, what’s left if we never speak about where we came from, what we did and what happenend to us ? Are we what people tell about us ? Are we what we keep under silence, are we the culture and language we abandoned ? Each person is shown by the languages he or she spoke. The image show what’s told about them during family meetings – anecdotes, recipes, proverbs, tics on the one hand, philosophy, religion, historical facts that influenced their lives on the other hand – thus, retracing German, Polish, Russian and
European History between and after two World Wars until today. One observes languages disappear (Ancient Hebrew, Polish, Russian) and new ones appear (English, French, Serbocroate). In a halfway subjective, halfway scientific way, these portraits show different ways of coping with History : with humour, rebellion, repressing memories… Just as my grandmother said : « Things are not that simple ».

Retracing Histories
My education being both litterary and artistic, I’m interested in how image and text interact, especially in the limits between both. As in ancient greek « graphein », tracing a line, I’m drawing and witing calligrammes, inspired by kabbala tradition and by Guillaume Apollinaire or Max Ernst.