Trained in linguistics and philosophy, Lena Herzog is a multimedia artist whose work has been exhibited around the world. Last Whispers, an immersive cinematic experience dedicated to vanishing languages, is the result of Herzog’s ongoing interest in indigenous dialects, which are disappearing at an astonishing rate. By 2050, half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the world will fall silent. In Herzog’s oratorio, the historical recordings of more than 40 endangered or lost languages come alive among the echoes of collapsing stars in a work The New Yorker critic Alex Ross calls “haunting and singular.” Multiple panels and open discussions are planned to provide deeper understanding of the languages and what is being done worldwide to protect indigenous voices from fading away.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Oratorio and Panel Discussion Schedule
Herzog’s immersive oratorio, Last Whispers, will be preceded by panel discussions on select days, outlined below. This unique experience will be offered in back-to-back presentations on Sunday, October 20.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16 @ 3:00 PM
CELEBRATING LANGUAGE ACROSS CULTURES
A public discourse prompted by questions posed by Dr. Oppenheim
Dr. Lois Oppenheim – Moderator
(Chair, Dept of Modern Languages & Literature)
Dr. Daniel Mengara
(Prof. of French – Dept of Modern Languages & Literatures)
Dr. Teresa Fiore
(Prof. of Italian, Inserra Endowed Chair – Dept of Modern Languages & Literatures)
Dr. Maisa Taha
(Prof. of Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology – Dept of Anthropology)
MSU Undergrad – Japanese Minor; identifies as Hispanic
MSU Undergrad – Italian Minor; identifies as Hispanic, Taino heritage
MSU Undergrad – German Major; in process of converting to Judaism and studying Arabic Culture
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17 @ 7:30 PM
LENA HERZOG – HER ADVOCACY AND ARTISTRY
After the immersive oratorio film, Lena Herzog will be joined by Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler in a
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18 @ 7:30 PM
GLOBAL RESPONSES TO LANGUAGE LOSS
Mary Linn, Curator of Cultural and Linguistic Revitalization at the Smithsonian, will show how endangered and minoritized languages communities are engaged in innovative efforts to reclaim their languages, renew or sustain traditional lifeways, and take control of their futures using examples from several resilient communities in North America, Western Europe, and Tibetan areas of China.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19 @ 8:00 PM
LOUD & CLEAR: LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY ON THE BRINK
Ross Perlin brings together scholars and activists invested in protecting and revitalizing native languages in our region.
Co-Director, Endangered Language Alliance (New York, USA)
Chief Vincent Mann
Turtle Clan Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation
Gloria “Tadii” Angeles
Indigenous Cuicateca Migrant (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Lunaape language keeper (Munsee-Delaware Nation, Canada)
Ibrahima Kellitigue Traore
N’ko Language Activist
Dr. George A. Kiraz
Senior Research Associate, Institute for Advanced Society, Princeton; Director of the Beth Mardutho Syriac Institute
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20 @ 1:30 PM & 3:00 PM
Back-to-back presentations of the immersive oratorio.
Because of the unique nature of this series – including rich panel discussions and an experience that lends itself to repeated viewing- audiences are invited to attend one or more events for the price of a single ticket. For more information, please contact the box office
In The News
Zachary Woolfe, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Dying Languages Cry Out in ‘Last Whispers’
The 45-minute piece confronts a startling reality: According to Unesco, nearly half of the world’s approximately 6,000 languages are endangered. But Ms. Herzog approaches this dismal subject in a decidedly poetic, almost abstract way, conveying the aura of all that’s being lost rather than haranguing.
Last Whispers was created in collaboration with The Endangered Languages Institute, SOAS, University of London. It is co-presented by The Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, UNESCO
Programs in Peak Performances’ 2019-20 season are made possible in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.