It’s one thing to speak a new language, but it’s something else entirely to actually feel that language.
That’s the general concept behind Faune Ibarres Torres’ presentation for October’s CBNuit arts festival event — “θ - TH [or How To Find Your Own Language]”.
The project is a collective performance of gratitude and a celebration of art, community, and existence, based upon the phoneme θ (the TH sound), the first sound you make when you say thank you, thanks, or thoughtful.
Ibarres Torres, 23, is originally from Mexico City, and has just begun her fourth year of study in the Visual Arts program in Corner Brook at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Though there are visual arts schools in Mexico, it’s difficult to be accepted into one due to high demand, so she eventually discovered Grenfell’s program and decided to head north to pursue her dream.
Though she was in Toronto during last year’s similar, but larger, Nuit150 event, she has participated in arts festivals before and knew she wanted to participate in CBNuit this time around.
“Corner Brook is my second home now,” she said. “All of these ideas (of her project) started here. I really wanted to share this with the community.”
The idea of the project started with her feelings of working on school projects in English, when neither of her parents speak the language, and how they would be able to understand what she is doing or saying.
That then triggered thoughts of herself, after first arriving in Canada, and seeing art that wouldn’t necessarily resonate with someone who didn’t speak the language.
“There’s a language barrier or a cultural barrier that make us not connect with what we are seeing,” she said.
A walk through the wooded nature trails around the city led her to ponder to herself how one communicates with nature. Is she supposed to use English or Spanish?
“What do you say to a tree?” she said with a laugh.
That’s when she came to the realization it’s not about the language itself and the meaning of words, but communicating with and understanding the other person beyond their native language and beyond what they are saying.
“Because, at the end, language is about sounds,” she said.
The project features banners with the phoneme θ that she has been performing with throughout the summer across the province and back home in Mexico. She has photos that she will print into postcards with space on the back for people to write messages of gratefulness or thoughtfulness to their loved ones, along with stamps and envelopes available to actually mail them. She will also have a phone on hand for people to make calls, whether local or international, to show their appreciation for other people in their lives.
“The banner with this phenome is about using the opportunity to feel what you are saying, to be thoughtful about it, and to share it with other people,” she said.
The CBNuit festival runs on Oct. 13 from 7 p.m.-midnight on West Street in Corner Brook.