Can Tongues Talk?!

Okay, so, as I was walking around the ICA in Boston for a project, I came across a piece called “A Thousand Tongues Can Never Tell” by Bessie Harvey. Now, I am not going to lie, but my first thought was “what the hell is this?!” I thought it was an octopus, then realized it was a human figure with multiple tongues of many different colors. It was awkwardly placed in the middle of the gallery, but just so that it disrupted normal gallery traffic. when you look into its eyes, you see a curious figure who looks confused since it has almost a single tree root as a body. It looks like it is trying to figure you out as much as you are trying to figure it out. There are about 10 tongues in total of all different colors, but the high color contrasts the dark color of the mainframe or backbone of the figure. From the front, it looks like the figure has a C curve but from other angles it looks straight. adorning the figure are small white objects, like shells or beads, which makes sense because this is officially considered folk art. The mixture of mediums from fabric for the tongue to metal for the base and shells and beads make this piece truly unique.

What do you guys think? what do you think it is? Do you like it or not understand it? let me know below 🙂


The Art Historian

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