Tongue Tide!

Purgatory Pie Press, “Volumptuous: Hanging Tower of Babble” (2017) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic).

Hyperallergic has a write-up on what sounds like a very grand show indeed, Tongue Tides, in Long Island City. I would so love to see this in person.

Are you ready for volumptuous? This hilarious sign by Purgatory Pie Press dangling from Flux Factory’s ceiling, part of “Volumptuous: Hanging Tower of Babble,” a large installation of hanging signage, is a fitting mascot for this playful summer show. Tongue Tide invites us all to play a little more with language, and to ponder other languages besides English. It’s a must-see for writers and wordsmiths and is well worth the trip to Long Island City.

Queens is the most linguistically diverse area on the planet. No other place boasts so many languages in such close proximity, something Rashedul Hasan and Dan Silverman illustrate in “We Are the Queens of New York” (2017), a map piece where dots of different colors represent these many varied languages. It’s really powerful to dwell on just how unique the borough — and New York City as a whole — is from this perspective.


It’s also good to ponder this map because, with all due to respect to Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, English does not own a monopoly on wit. Many turns of phrase and poetic expressions in other languages pack a punch, even in translation. Some of the best work in this show plays with other languages to give us glimpses of their clever bons mots.

An intriguing artist book by Magali Duzant, A Light Blue Desire (2017), complies blue bromides from across the globe, and blue postcards featuring some of the selections are available for visitors to take home. Blue, in word and concept, can be stretched in so many semiotic directions. The blues are great, but they cast a sad shadow on the color as a metaphor in today’s English, which is further exacerbated by the minority status of the so-called blue states in the US’s broken political system. But blue is not so sad in other languages. One vivid example is the Polish expression for what we might call daydreaming: to think about blue almonds. It captures the futility of idle fantasy so well.

You can see the map, and much more, and there’s more to read at Hyperallergic.


  1. rq says

    I like blue. This is a cool informational journey that only adds to the many moods of blue for me.

  2. says

    I’ll have to read that book. I’m not kindly disposed towards blue, but I love the thinking about blue almonds.

  3. rq says

    Blue (for me) is a background: you make things to stand out against it (red, black, fuchsia…). Like the sky.
    But I like it, I like wearing it, and I’ve never found it a sad colour. It is a background, a foundation for everything else, like a good pair of jeans. Solid, even when it’s pale, like a shadow on the snow.
    That’s my take. :)

  4. says

    Yeah, I know, everyone likes blue except me. Pastel blues make me actively hostile, something colour experts claim shouldn’t be possible. “It’s a calming colour!”

  5. says

    Aaaand, as much as I like the idea behind “thinking of blue almonds”, my primary association with that is cyanide.

  6. rq says

    A lot of things happen that shouldn’t be possible. I’ve always heard that about lavender, but it just makes me nauseous, like it has a funny smell. Eh.
    As for the cyanide connection… that’s almonds for ya! Don’t eat the blue ones.

  7. Raucous Indignation says

    I can attest to the diversity of Queens, NY. I was in the ER of Jamaica Hospital one night when I was a medical student, and there were more than a dozen languages being spoken in that one room.

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    Caine, I’m very “meh” about blue, but it doesn’t piss me off.

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