Lingua Franca

curated by Launa Bacon of Darger HQ

Marxhausen Gallery, Concordia University

November 6 - December 14

Opening November 13, 1-4pm, lecture at 2pm

Kenneth Adkins, Jennifer Bockelman, Charley Friedman, Nancy Friedemann-Sanchez, Camille Hawbaker, Anthony Hawley, Josh Johnson, Ellina Kevorkian, Holly Kranker, Michael Ian Larsen, Craig Roper, Sarah Rowe, Angie Seykora, Luke Severson, Matthew Sontheimer, and Sheila Talbitzer


“Movies are the lingua franca of the twentieth century”  - Gore Vidal

Lingua Franca is a language that is used among people who speak various different languages, used as a means of communication between populations speaking vernaculars that are not mutually intelligible. The term was first used during the Middle Ages to describe a French- and Italian-based jargon, or pidgin, that was developed by Crusaders and traders in the eastern Mediterranean and characterized by the invariant forms of its nouns, verbs, and adjectives, often serving as a trade language.   Since the 15th century, Arabic, Latin, Portuguese and Malay served as important diplomatic and trade languages. 

Today, lingua francas especially, but also pidgins, represent an attempt to create universally understood languages in a world with growing global interactions.  The shared language helped facilitate interethnic or interregional communication.     Lingua francas, pidgins, or creoles are significant to geography, represents a long history of communication between various groups of people and is an important gauge of what was taking place at the time the language developed. Modern lingua francas, as designated by the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.  Others are: Indonesian, Esperanto, Lingala, Swahili, Hausa, Creole.

Visual art communicates in a similar way.  In creating art, consciously or not, artists are attempting to communicate at a powerful, emotional level to those within their own culture. However, the best work transcends its cultural matrix and speaks directly to our common humanity.  The current socio-political climate is reflected in the choice of media, materials, and technique as well as the content and the aesthetic and conceptual sophistication of the work.  Ideas and thoughts are an important gauge of what is taking place at the time the work was developed.

The artists represented create work that is in conversation with the current global contemporary art climate, while in consideration with art history.  Their work possesses a certain universal worldview that speaks a common language, a visual art lingua franca.