Kalbėk English deconstructs the relationship between language and nationalism by utilising my personal history of emigrating to England from Lithuania at age 10, and then experiencing the attrition—disappearance and replacement—of my Lithuanian language by English.
Within both cultural contexts, language, as well as the proficiency and execution (i.e. accent) of that language is a key identifier of national identity. The performance took place a few years after Brexit referendum, with incidents of immigrants in the UK being harassed and told to speak English increasingly reported in media.
Combining research on second language acquisition, transnational identity formation and models of nationalism, I charted these interwoven transformations across 6 stages.
The text of the performance consists of 6 utterances, one for each stage. Using the cognitive model of speech formation, I verbalised the journey from idea to utterance, focusing on the choices that go into constructing these sentences as the main mode of meaning production, with the utterance itself being purely performative.
I performed the text on top of live looping of speech rhythms in Lithuanian and English, as I repeated the action of moving towards and away from a suitcase.