Do you have deaf people among your friends? Or maybe one of your friends does? No? Exactly. It’s fascinating that our language proves inefficient and awkward in describing sign languages and the world of the deaf in general. To give some substance to my words, let me cite a number of truisms from the eponymously titled collection by Jenny Holzer, an American neo-conceptual artist. Considered from the standpoint of sign language, these simple phrases have different ramifications:

Listen when your body talks.

People who don’t work with their hands are parasites.

Words tend to be inadequate.

Description is more important than metaphor.

Abstraction is a type of decadence.

You are responsible for constituting the meaning of things.

One Gesture is about communicating with the world of Those Who Can Hear and with that of the Deaf. How does communication work? How is knowledge, emotion and culture transmitted, produced and processed? If language is the only reality we have access to (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”, as Wittgenstein observed), what can we learn about the world from the language of the deaf? What is universal about their experience of communicating, and what is unique? And how is it that none have any deaf friends?

Let’s call a day. But writing these words, I am merely beginning my work. I cannot comprehend the landscape I am seeing in front of me. I do not what may come into view.

Wojtek Ziemilski

Wojtek Ziemilski

Set design, associate director
Wojciech Pustoła

Light direction
Artur Sienicki

Aleksander Żurowski

Krystian Jarnuszkiewicz

Marta Abramczyk, Jolanta Sadłowska, Paweł Sosiński, Adam Stoyanov

Stage manager
Marta Śmierzchalska

Assistant director
Joanna Niemirska

Katarzyna Głozak

Katarzyna Głozak, Joanna Ciesielska, Agnieszka Misiewicz, Anna Borycka

Maria Wilska

Production assistant
Marta Kielar

Technical coordinator
Bartek Braun

Patryk Adamski

Marek Kurpios

Wojciech Starowicz

Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage
Burdąg Foundation
Polish Association of the Deaf, Mazovia Branch
Adam Mickiewicz Institute

Recording of Fryderyk Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor op. 27 no. 1, performed by Marta Sosińska, courtesy of The Fryderyk Chopin Institute.

24 September 2016

And how performative it is! Some scenes remain virtuosic dance performances. Because the sign language involves all your body. When one performs, sets his or her body entirely in motion, with the premise that it will be exposed — otherwise one would have not be able to communicate. There are no texts — the actors perform the Deaf anthem “Go on together!”, but that’s it: they do not have their own literary canon, no songs or poems. Everything is composed by and within the body — but it does not stop Adam Stoyan from being a poet.

Piotr Morawski, “Dwutygodnik”