The Borrowed Language, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2009

Scene from  The Borrowed Language  with Kobie’s video mapping projections

Scene from The Borrowed Language with Kobie’s video mapping projections


The Borrowed Language

depicts the experience of contemporary Australasians who feel haunted by distant memories and the sense of a way of living left behind. They are left floating in a state of un-belonging and loss which cannot even be voiced, since the appropriate language is absent. Their memories slip into a language of borrowed sounds, words and phrases from forgotten tongues that once held direct access to feelings, physicalities and intimate spaces:"My cultural heritage and knowledge is tied to my language, and without it I feel disinherited of my inner identity."

WeiZen's inner world is a rich linguistic and imaginary landscape, tied to her sense of cultural origins and their inevitable loss. Even before migrating to Australia and becoming a citizen, growing up in Malaysia without full access to the spoken and written language of her Grandparents, left her feeling adrift as a colonised hybrid. At the same time the depth and richness of her performance springs from this loss, severance and questions around what one imagines to be an identity of ‘origin’. 

For this project, WeiZen Ho (TUFA) brings together a team of artists who share a merging of South-East Asian/Chinese and Australian culture. The creative process examines and draws on this shared experience. 

The piece merges an original script, music, visuals, performance movement and voice. 

WeiZen Ho:performer, composer/ writer & project initiator
Phillip Mar:concept development & cultural research
Tammy Wong:visual research
Pongpassakorn Kulthirathum (‘Kobie’):video artist
Vic McEwan:production manager/ sound designer
Mentors/ consultants:Barbara Campbell, 
Tess DeQuincey (Weather Exchange) and Peggy Wallach.

This work is assisted by Arts NSW

This work is assisted by Arts NSW