This site is a reader to the screening and performance event THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE, that first opened at Tramway, Glasgow, as part of Glasgow International, 15-25 April 2010. It will also take place at Tate Modern, as part of Electra’s Her Noise Symposium, 3-5 May 2012.

This reader seeks to build up a collage of online material that expands the scope of the project, and bring a range of voices and materials to the fore.


THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE is a performance and screening project that orbits the legacy of avant-garde pioneer Meredith Monk. It features work by artists Sophie Macpherson, James Richards, Cara Tolmie and Sue Tompkins, and includes rarely seen films by Monk.

A filmmaker, dancer, choreographer, composer and singer, Monk came to prominence in New York in the 1960s. Developing innovative forms of musicality, her unique collision of sound, image and performance atomised such binary classifications. She remains an active and prolific artist today.

THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE casts Monk not as a direct influence upon, but an active player within a range of dynamic contemporary practices. The project explores the dispersal of the voice and its relationship to image by assembling a collage of performance, music, video and spoken word. From Tolmie and Macpherson’s exploration of gesture and archetype, to Richards and Tompkins’ disarming and alternative approaches to balancing rhythm and context, THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE seeks to displace the primacy of the linguistic in favour of a synthetic language.

The project was made by Isla Leaver-Yap in response to an invitation by Tramway, Glasgow, to contribute to Glasgow International 2010. It was then reconfigured for Electra at Tate Modern, London, as part of the Her Noise Symposium 2012.


Warmest thanks are extended to the artists involved in the project, Tramway, without whom this would not have been possible, and Electra for staging the second incarnation of the project. Special thanks go to Meredith Monk.

Thanks also go to the following individuals for their generous support and advice: Richard Birkett, Steven Cairns, Claudia Calirman, Amanda Cooper, Katie Crook, Leigh Ferguson, Francesco Gagliardi, Olivia Georgia, Melissa Gronlund, Fatima Hellberg, Will Holder, Claire Jackson, Jesse Jones, Ash Reid, Irene Revell, Lucy Skaer, Ben Soper and Clare Stephenson.

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