It’s Not Just a Sign Language: It’s a Scene Language
Coversation between Jonathas de Andrade and
Anderson Almeida-Sliva & Andrew Nevins
Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade discovered, during his field trips to a village in Sertão, that local hearing-impaired groups developed a unique sign language system. Unlike the standard sign language system taught and used in other parts of the country, the Sertão version incorporates movements and facial expressions that are much more dramatic and, to the unaccustomed eye, almost performative. For Jonathas, this local sign language more than satisfies the communicative function and achieves a type of re-enactment of past events. It inspired the idea for his film Jogos Dirigidos (Directed Games). In this issue, de Andrade and two linguists who conducted studies in the same village have a trans-disciplinary conversation about the artistic and expressive power of the Sertão sign language system.