Wortschätze, Goethe Institut, London, 2002
Usually there are complaints about the takeover of anglicisms in the German language and some people fear the loss of their mother tongue. During her studies in Great Britain the artist Steffi Jüngling came across a surprising number of German words in the English language like Kindergarden, Blitzkrieg, Wunderkind and so on.
Out of interest she decided to read her Englsih dictionary („The new Penguin English Dictionary“)systematically to see which German words she would find. She was surprised by the number of German words she discovered, especially as some of them are not frequently used in German, for example ‚Meerschaum‘, derived from a certain lime stone used for special pipes, or Wanderlust, Weltschmerz and so on. In order to re-import these recovered expressions to German, the artist began to look for a location to realise an installation with these words.
The library of the Goethe Institute in London appeared to be a perfect platform for this project as it represents a kind of German territory in another country. Selected words, together with their phonetic transcription and their English explanation were placed as vinyl letters onto the windows of the library, which is situated in the heart of London. From there they are shining into the rooms of the library as well as back to their original speech area. Particularly the foreign appearance of the English explanation makes one discover our mostly unconsciously used language; in German, dictionary is translated as ‚Wortschatz‘ -treasure of words and with this installation, the own language can be discovered as a real treasure. This site specific artwork remains as a permanent installation at the windows of the Goethe Institut.
Another piece of the artist intervenes into the rooms of the library; the books, which have been withdrawn from the library were arranged as a kind of raft or island within the library space as a site specific installation. As soon as they entered, the visitors of this library were confronted with an island of books; the dimensions of it was around 3×4 meters and it was placed in the main hall of the library. The books were laid on their bspines with the pages looking up. By that they were made anonymous and the surface of this floor piece invited to various associations from a landscape of papers to a carpet of books; it acts as a cushion for the eyes of the spectators, which does not reveal its content.