Stills from Landscapes of Ladino (single channel) , 2019

Landscapes of Ladino is a video work and installation comprised of footage taken during a two-month site visit to Thessaloniki, Greece. It explores the nexus of language and landscape through the near disappearance of Judaeo-Spanish (Ladino), lingua franca of the Sephardic Jews.

Pre-war Thessaloniki was a multi-ethnic metropolis, and a key site for Sephardic life. Up until the early 20th century, Sephardic Jews made up the majority of the population. By 1943, the Nazi-occupation of Greece had led to the near-total extermination of the Jewish community, with less than 2000 people returning after liberation. The community and thus its linguistic systems were eradicated from the landscape of the city. Today the community stands at less than 1000, with only a handful of people still able to speak in Ladino.

Landscapes of Ladino brings together fragments from interviews and oral testimonies taken during my time spent in the city to produce a work somewhere between artist-film, documentary and essay film. It views Ladino as an ‘ancestral’ or ‘archaic mother tongue’ and, with Julia Kristeva’s notion of the archaic mother, questions the role of a ‘mother(’s)’ tongue or ‘mother(’s) land’ and reflects on subsequent alienations from it.

The work currently has two iterations, one across three channels as an installation and the other as a single channel version. 

To read the accompanying essay to the work please click here.