In cooperation with the Goethe Institute the contemporary art festival Survival Kit 13 is organizing The Hearing Voices Café – an ambitious program of events, which will take place in a pop-up cafe at the festival venue which will be open throughout the duration of the festival in cooperation with the "Borscht - dinner with Ukrainians" team.

The Hearing Voices Café is a project of the Goethe-Institut incorporated into a comprehensive package of measures for which the Federal Foreign Office provides funding from the 2022 Supplementary Budget to mitigate the effects of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

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3 September, MUTED TONGUES

SATURDAY, 3 September

Muted Tongues
A talk on the fate of destroyed languages


Venue: “Hearing Voices Café”, Pils iela 23

The event will be held in English.

From the military suppression of the Kurdish population in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the politics of language are central to many violent conflicts raging in the world today. It seems that, following the collapse of multinational empires, be it the Ottoman Empire or the Soviet Union, and with the emergence of mono-ethnic nation states, language became a key tool of political and cultural control of population. Some languages were officially sanctioned while others became discouraged or banned outright. This violence affects not only the generation of the living; because the development of a language is an inter-generational process that can take hundreds of years, extinguishing a language also erases that which remains of the preceding generations. As Walter Benjamin wrote: “… even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins."

Historical linguist Olga Olina and artist Anton Vidokle will discuss the politics of language in the context of the new film Gilgamesh: She Who Saw The Deep, which was shot in Turkey in Kurdish language last summer, as well as Muted Tongues: A Timeline of Suppressed Languages, which they developed jointly for the exhibition.


Olga Olina is a polyglot, historical linguist and advocate of indigenous & minority languages. Presently, she is mastering her 10th modern and 10th ancient language. Olga teaches Sanskrit at Humboldt University of Berlin and contributes to various research projects aimed at understanding understudied languages, such as Fur and Yucatec Maya. She was responsible for linguistic research and co-creation of the Muted Tongues timeline.

Anton Vidokle is an artist, filmmaker, and editor of e-flux journal. He has initiated or co-initiated many acclaimed international projects, such as Unitednationsplaza, a temporary art school. In 2008, Vidokle and Julieta Aranda created the Time / Bank platform for the artistic community, where artists, curators, writers and other people working in the arts can help each other get things done without the use of money, by exchanging their time and skills. He has also made many critically acclaimed films