Last year, Triple Canopy published Alix Rule and David Levine’s “International Art English.” As a broad critique of globalized artspeak semantics, the essay has since sparked many debates around the exaggerated claims and imprecise promotional language of contemporary art. In this issue of e-flux journal, Martha Rosler and Hito Steyerl each respond to Rule and Levine’s essay.
Let’s start with something else. Ever heard of the English Disco Lovers? A fantastic online project trying to outgun (or rather outlove) their acronym twin—the racist English Defence League, also abbreviated as “EDL”—on Facebook and Twitter. For this they use the bilingual slogan “Unus Mundas, Una Gens, Unus Disco (One World, One Race, One Disco).” The English Disco Lovers’ name is, of course, a deliberate misreading of the original, a successfully failed copy coming into being via translation.
Likewise in the case of many exhibition press releases—or so Alix Rule and David Levine claim in their widely read essay “International Art English.” International Art English, or “IAE,” is their name for the decisively amateurish English language used in contemporary art press releases. In order to investigate IAE, Rule and Levine undertake a statistical inquiry into a set of such texts distributed by e-flux. They conclude that the texts are written in a skewed English full of grandiose and empty jargon often carelessly ripped from mistranslations of continental philosophy.
Read the full article here.