Stories of origin cannot exist without a language to tell them in, without a tongue to carry the words. In the Words, In the Bones is an exhibition about inherited identities as grounded in language and in the body, which considers them from the perspective of postcolonial and postcommunist subjectivities. Three artists featured here: Marina Leybishkis, Nyugen E. Smith, and Zsuzsanna Varga-Szegedi reflect on the words that get passed down through generations, and the bones of the body one receives.  Speaking from their positions as US-based artists with roots in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean, the artists uncover their family histories, investigate the contentious heritage of the colonial era and postcommunist ruptures and absences in order to address the individual, bodily effects of collective cultural traumas.

In all of the works exhibited here, bodies serve as carriers of histories. The colonial and communist narratives Smith, Varga-Szegedi, and Leybishkis inherited are marked with political conflicts and personal loss, but their own gestures are constitutive in nature. Through the use of invented languages, recovered historical records and reconstructed cultural artifacts, the artists create new, empowering narratives of reclamation, revival and growth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos by Melissa Blackall

Exhibition on the website of Boston Center for the Arts here.


The Boston Globe: print / online

The Bay State Banner online


Download the brochure (exh. guide) in pdf


%d bloggers like this: