Kinga Araya

1997, 11:00 minutes, colour


"ABC" consists of four objects: two bureaucratic looking chairs, one 27" TV monitor and a two meter long metallic table. The chairs are placed at the shorter ends of the table. While one chair is emptied by its interlocutor, the other is occupied by a large TV monitor. The eleven-minute-long video displays three close-up images of the mouth that in a deliberately exaggerated manner pronounce three uncanny stories.
Story A (A as in Asshole) is recounted during three minutes by a mouth generously coloured with a green lipstick. This story is about the sixth summer student attempt to find any job. However, since the candidate for the position of an "administrative assistant" has a foreign accent in English, it creates a problem. The interviewing committee interprets this fact as a sign of a less competent and poorly educated applicant. Paradoxically, the story starts with a sentence that a student is "proud of her two Magna Cum Laude diplomas."

Story B (B as in Bullshit) shows the same mouth, but now "dressed" with a black lipstick from which a few black lines are drawn outwards. The story recalls an interview with a Canadian judge at he Court of Canadian Citizenship in Ottawa in 1993. The ironic imitation of the judge's question: "Who is the Prime Minister of Canada?" critically undermines the judge's preconceived and discriminating ideas regarding newcomers in Canada.

Finally, the Story C (C as in Cocksucker) is told by a mouth with a red lipstick. The story is about an uneasy relation between a female student who learns English and a male professor. The ABC that symbolically stands for the first steps in learning any new subject juxtaposes the grotesque and sexual connotations of the mouth with a painful immigrant syujet. Whether it is A, another unsuccessful job interview, B, a humiliating form of an exam for Citizenship status, or C, a vulnerable position of a female student with a limited English vocabulary, they are all the ABC of becoming Canadian.

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Critical Writing

Walking the Wall: Global Flaneuse with Local Dilemmas
by Kinga Araya. Wagadu, Fall 2009, v. 7.