How Language Invents the World


Graubünden’s language and cultural landscape serves as starting point for the exhibition «How Language Invents the World». Therewith the Art Museum Graubünden addresses a central theme of human culture and locates regional peculiarities in global coherencies. By focussing on a selection of works by national and international artists, as well as on historical artefacts from Graubünden, light is thrown on the meaning of language and narrative in community and society.

The exhibition draws on language documents from Graubünden such as the 18th century travel diary of Gion Casper Collenberg from Lumbrein. At the time there was a word for sea in Romansh namely «la mar», however, there are no terms for low and high tide. As an explanation Collenberg in his diary refers back to a natural phenomenon well known in the mountains of Graubünden. He describes a river whose water level rises when it rains and later drops again. «This is the case with the sea», he writes. The exhibition «How Language Invents the World» throws light on the power of language to conjure up ideas and fictitious narratives, and in this way influences our view of the world. In the works of artists such as Not Vital, Erica Pedretti, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marcel Broodthaers, Ian Hamilton Finlay or Susan Hiller such themes are touched upon like cultural identity, political narratives, migration or language change. The overall theme is exanined within diverse turning points in history and shows how language influences the way we think, act and understand the world.