Tongues is an experimental film directed by visual/digital artist Màiri Lafferty and supported by a Morton Award from the Royal Scottish Academy. It is about glossolalia or speaking in tongues and is based on Lafferty’s childhood experience of the Pentecostal movement in the US and Scotland. It was filmed at Basic Mountain, Edinburgh in June 2019 and documented by Holly Yeomen in her text Polyphonic Representation.
Tongues comprises four workshopped Acts designed to create a secular environment to practice glossolalia led by Ros Steen, accredited teacher of NGVW, and Layla Brown, a classically trained singer specialising in improvisation. The band of artists Fallopé & the Tubes – Sarah Messenger, Ruby Pester, Nadia Rossi, Rachel Walker, Catherine Weir, & guest Rosslyn Oman – participate in these Acts whereby Steen and Brown use radical pedagogical vocal techniques, including Nadine George Voice Work with its roots in the pioneering research of Alfred Wolfsohn, to enable the group to release ‘their authentic, magnetically haunting sound, a voice relation of Wolfsohn’s dying souls’. [Holly Yeoman.] Text spoken was drawn from A.L.Kennedy’s essay Proof of Life ( published in ‘On Writing’, Jonatahn Cape 2013) as well as vocal deconstructions of the participants names.
Before filming, Màiri experienced Nadine George Voice Work in a lesson with Ros to understand the work from her own embodiment of it. In an e mail subsequently she wrote the session
has transformed the film itself – originally fundamentally visual – into something far more performative…. it is the process of the film that is the most important thing…how can I create the best space for it? How can I create a safe and generous space for a group of women to engage with their own energy – to begin to understand its force and power, and harness it to vocalise something that they otherwise cannot articulate?’
Both film and Yeoman’s text are currently available here :