What Belongs To The Sky?

February 15, 2012


The project What Belongs To The Sky?, has been made possible by a research and development subsidy from the Centrum Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam. 


What Belongs To The Sky? investigates the social aspects between language and communication in a situation where the ability to speak is broken down. In order to carry out the project, I set out to focus on the very particular condition of aphasia, which is an inability to understand and/or to use language symbols as a result of a neurological impairment. As language is essential to the construction of a Self, I was curious to examine how it would be possible for a person living with aphasia to participate in the social construction of his or hers autobiographical narrative in the face of such an impairment. What I set out to do was to insert myself, together with my video and audio recording equipment, in the everyday life of an elderly couple living on an isolated, bi-lingual island of Utö (Finland), in the middle of the Baltic sea. The man of the couple, Fjalar Johansson, has Bingswangers disease, a type of dementia, and as a result suffers of aphasia. Previously a bi-lingual, charismatic and an eloquent public speaker, Fjalar’s speech has in the last few years been reduced to a very basic level, consisting of simple sentences, isolated words, and supporting bodily gestures. Now, more often than not, he is unable to finish his sentences and give form to his thoughts through words. He is unable to fluently express himself to others and in this way to participate in the social. His inability to partake in the social through language and speaking is also heightened by his poor sight and hearing. However, it is specifically his loss of language and its creative power to construct, order and mediate that has placed him in a social abyss with diminished means to navigate in the social and so to have proper agency as a human being.

The project  will result in two parallel parts; a film with a narrative structure and an audio-visual installation consisting of shorter video works.


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