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Starting with what appears to be a routine security check at the entrance to Tel Aviv airport, By The Throat explores a more deeply engraved border, albeit an invisible one, that lies in our oral cavity and determines the sounds and words we are able to pronounce. We carry this border in us, that is designed by our mother tongue and the environment in which we grew up, becoming ourselves a mobile checkpoint wherever we are. Touring between different territories – sonic, anatomical and political – By The Throat highlights contemporary manifestations of the Shibboleth, a language test to determine whether or not you belong to a group. It is based on repeating a word or sound considered hard to pronounce by anyone from outside the linguistic community from which the shibboleth came. This type of test aimed at distinguishing “friend from foe” has been practiced since biblical times and is currently part of the procedures faced by asylum seekers in Europe in order to verify their stories. Machines determine whether the accents are correct, thus turning elocution into a veritable weapon of mass detection. Language saves or betrays, allows a person to be let in, indeed guarantees their survival or their exclusion.
Effi & Amir are visual artists who live in Brussels and work as a duo since 1999. Their work mostly involves video, performance and participatory strategies and often deals with collective identities, their construction and their relation to concrete places and symbolic systems. Apart from their own practice, they collaborate with other artists as editors, cameramen and effects designers. They teach and give video workshops to diverse audiences.
A film by: Effi & Amir
Camera: Effi & Amir
Sound: Gedeon Depauw, Kwinten Van Laethem, Farhad Katrahmani, Lancelot Hervé-Mignucci
Editing: Simon Arazi, Effi & Amir
Sound editing: Kwinten Van Laethem
Original soundtrack: Thomas Myrmel
Research assistance: arp: Brussels
Production: La chose à trois jambes
Co-production: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg, CBA – centre de l’audiovisuel à Bruxelles
With the support of: VAF – Vlaams audiovisueel fonds, Ostrovsky Family Fund, Argos – centre for audiovisual art, Artport
And the kind collaboration of Prof. Bernard Harmegnies (Institut de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies du Langage, Université de Mons), Professor Jo Verhoeven (City University of London & Antwerp University), Dr. Peter Knopp (Department of Phonetics, University of Trier), Prof. Peter L. Patrick (University of Essex), Dr Kevin Nolan (School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, University College Dublin)
English, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Tibetan, Dutch, Albanese → NL, FR