ESPERANTO SITCOM

Today the sitcom is one of the most successful moving image format since the American inventor W K L Dickson invented the film camera in 1888. The sitcom is a radically effective application of Hollywood narrative structures.

In Hollywood's infancy it was not self evident that everyone in the large newly arrived groups of immigrants knew English well. To ensure the widest possible audience, Hollywood developed — for commercial reasons — a narrative technique that would engage viewers across cultural boundaries. This method of making products that appealed to a large heterogenic target group was developed and fine-tuned in the entire field of American production. And after the second world war these products were ready to conquer the world.

Esperanto is an idealistic language project, launched by the polish oculist L L Zamenhof in 1887. He wanted to contribute to world peace through the creation of a neutral second language. Esperanto is based on a transparent grammar, and is very easy to learn. The idea was thus that everyone should be able to learn and communicate in a language independent of commercial and political forces.

A sitcom in Esperanto will thus be an encounter of two different attempts to establish universal systems: a commercial one, and an idealistic one. But the idea behind our project is not only to contrast modern mercantilism and fin-de-siècle idealism, but also to examine what they have in common – the yearning for universalism. The battlefield of modernity has to a large degree been marked by the clash of different claims of universal solutions – quite often with catastrophic consequences.

A central part of the project is to coin a parallel visual universe that has as its hypothesis that it is Esperantic. We have worked with this hypothesis since September 2003 under the name La Loko, which is Esperanto for 'the place'. The sets will thus offer the possibility to show all Esperanto objects we have conceived. Apart from being a new approach to design, such mimetic work is an attempt to do what artists always have done: to try to understand the world we live in through work with images.

Our first instalment of the Esperanto sitcom project will be made at Overgaden Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, between 30 September and 6 November 2005. We will produce one 22 minute episode and the recording will be open to the public. The address of the exhibition is Overgaden Neden Vandet 17, Christianshavn.

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