Language Is a River at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) presents film and dialogue-based works by a group of international and Australian artists exploring human communication through a spectrum of play, power and connection. Departing from the idea that an accomplished swimmer forgets the water they are in, the exhibition reflects on our immersion in language and its role in producing a self.

Language is what defines us and our world. The exhibition poses the question: what if we tuned our attention to the language we use, and used it to write ourselves differently? What can be gained, beyond practical purposes, when this crucial system of communication is used creatively and consciously? For all it does to connect individuals, language also blunts with use and repetition – it can smooth over difference and, with frequent use, become unfeeling. It is endlessly subject to interpretation and misinterpretation.

Language Is a River presents the Australian premiere of works by Shen Xin and Charlotte Prodger. Other featured artists include Akil Ahamat, Archie Barry, Sarah Rodigari and Wu Tsang. Four poems by First Nation writer, Ellen van Neerven start the conversation in this exhibition. Curated by MUMA’s Senior Curator, Hannah Mathews, and MUMA’s Curator (Research), Melissa Ratliff.

Language Is a River runs until 15 January 2022 at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Ground Floor, Building F, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East. Please note MUMA’s opening dates over summer: