In linguistics, etymology consists in researching and understanding the roots of a word, but also in revealing the relationship between the sound (enunciation) and the word (signifier). Myriam Mihindou has long experienced this association as a trauma. For several years, the artist has immersed herself in an etymological research that aims to ‘bring to the surface my fleur de sel’ 1 and to be able to identify things, to overcome boundaries and create images and representations. Since her childhood, she has been fascinated with dictionaries and encyclopedias. Above all, she devoured the medical books collected by her mother when she was a hospital director. By reading and studying anatomical charts, she discovered the human body in all its glory while learning about diseases and germs. It is not surprising, therefore, to see that her new series of sculptures is entitled Amygdales (Tonsils). Made of wood and copper, they take their cue from a dowsing rod, which is here developed into vegetal and organic forms. The series results from an examination of the common medical practice that consists in surgically removing the adenoids. Yet, as the artist explains, tonsils are an essential part of the body, ‘an element of survival that helps us identify, gauge and manage fear’. This would make removing them an authoritarian and violent practice that generates fear and perpetuates confusion. These works, then, are part of a wider reflection that takes a critical look at tools of domination such as medicine and language – the very tools that take part in the colonisation of bodies and modes of thought..
The exhibition was prepared in Meisenthal, a small French town near the German border. At the heart of this territory of boundaries the artist created a series of new works. Myriam Mihindou tracks the hybridisation of languages, the incongruities and the “disenchantments”. The German language interacts with the French language, the two cultures forming an alliance by way of words. She brings to the fore what she calls ‘the schizophrenia of language’, in which one word can hide another, a binarism that lets meanings overlap and contradict each other. In her effort to undermine the paralysing dualism on which Western societies are founded, Mihindou works with the plasticity of words, both literally and physically. She hybridises opposites by marrying glass and copper – ‘incompatible materials’ that she puts in a relation. We must therefore listen to and read the words to grasp the Creole essence: ‘languages that are visual and restorative’