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leading letters


'Leading letters', various locations, nipaluna (Hobart), TAS 2021-2022

Nadia Refaei and Sharifah Emalia Al-Gadrie

'Leading letters' is a series of interventions into public spaces which explore the relationship
between power and language; considering its role in the dissemination of information and as
a colonial tool. The text-based works were written in a 'constructed language' which drew from seven key language groups in the greater Hobart area, including languages of the artists. Each work was designed to blend into the city scape by responding to the architecture of each site.

This work is situated within the context and history of language in Tasmania; palawa kani
as a reclaimed language, community controversy surrounding dual naming and the growing
migrant population. A timely reflection against the backdrop of the global pandemic and a reported increase of insular attitudes and anti-immigrant sentiments, specifically against Asian communities.

'Leading letters' is inspired by the ways in which CALD communities have adapted
language to use English letters or structures and examines how changes in language and the disruption of communication norms can critique or reveal power dynamics.

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