Show your Tongue! Take your place! – About

About the project

At the beginning of 2020, I started to redraw photos at random: found on the internet, photos
of my friends or wild animals and so on. In this process, somehow, I came upon the idea to redraw photos of people with their tongues sticking out!

A great part in communication among people is performed verbally, that is, through the use of the speech organs, in which the basic organ is the human TONGUE, composed of eight muscles working together. Certainly, communication is not only verbal. As I said, the TONGUE plays a huge role and work in communication, it also takes a huge part of the eating and drinking work! But the interesting thing for me is that notwithstanding these facts, the TONGUE is rarely exposed. (It is most often shown to doctors, who judge from it of the health condition of their patients.)

The TONGUE as a human organ just like fingerprints, the eyes and the retina, nose, ears and mouth are unique to every person, that is, the TONGUE is also part of our individuality and identity. The act of sticking out a TONGUE is considered as either disrespectful or ill-mannered in many countries, and this act can also be erotic in nature, yet it has different meanings across cultures. For example, in the Maori tradition of New Zealand, sticking out a TONGUE is a belligerent act by which one warrior provokes another to battle, while in the Tibetan mountains, the act of sticking out a TONGUE is considered a salute, something like a handshake for us.

Based on such information, it might be concluded that not only the organ of the TONGUE is unique, but also the act of sticking out the TONGUE itself speaks a lot about the identity of the individual who performs that act.

The sticking out of a TONGUE is not something new, it has been known since ancient times, but perhaps in ancient times its meaning was different, because if we trace it historically, it is usually inherent in terrifying characters from different mythologies: Gorgona Medusa in Ancient Greek mythology, Kali in ancient Hindus mythology, Krampus in the beliefs of north western Europe. Many pictures of ‘spooky’ people and animals are found on the Internet, but no paintings of humans sticking out their TONGUE are often found, except perhaps for one drawing by Egon Schiele made in 1909.

It is also interesting that, in my language of Bulgarian, we have a special word, which describes this action. Some other languages haven’t, on the other hand, we haven’t a word for language, we use ‘tongue’ for both: language and tongue, anyway.

In short:
• The TONGUE is rarely displayed, possibly because the act of showing the tongue can also be regarded as erotic or somehow unserious
• As with fingerprints and eyes retinas, the TONGUE as an organ is unique to each person; in other words it provides personal information about the portrayed person if you paint a portrait
• The very act of showing the TONGUE speaks a lot about the identity and character of the person portrayed

Based on these three ‘arguments’, one might make a conclusion that the act of sticking out a TONGUE can be used in three different ways: for assisting in making portraits, for making psychological profiles and for fortune telling.

I do not feel qualified or confident in making psychological profiles, but I have, through this art project, created a short digital portrait quiz-like game.

I ask you to help me create this art project as a participant and to carefully and honestly fill in its questionnaire! I guarantee that I will not disseminate the collected data and will use them only for the purposes of this art project!

Neno Belchev
November 2020

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