Love as a first language

Built with iron bars, Sing-Sing resembles a large cage in the shape of an anatomical heart. Inside the open center, a rectangular metal slab hangs from chains. A pillow and a white sheet placed upon this perch suggests a bed. Sing-Sing is part of the project Love as a first language, conceived for the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, in response to a ballot initiative prohibiting Spanish-language education to the children of Latin Americans residing in California. Sing-Sing is also the name of one of the characters that appear in a story written by the artist to accompany the project. The story describes a time before words, before people were separated by language, proposing love — a communication between hearts—as a path to understanding between cultures.
Love as a First Language
“They were better times, certainly better…
My mother told me this when I was a child, as she rumpled my hair with her hand and cleaned my face with a handkerchief dampened with her saliva. As she took off my shoes and tucked me in bed…
—Did you know, son, that we used to speak the same language?
—Really, Mama? —Really, son! …and she kissed me.
In a far away corner, where the desert sun arrives to the sea passing over the heavy stones, in the center of the world, where a city is cut in four to honor the gods that it protects. In the north of the day where the piled rocks attest to the hate that continues flooding the souls. In the south of the beginning, where the owner is traded on by the new owner and the unconscious shouts ‘color defines value’. There was once a day with only one language.
In the green prairies of South Africa, in the alleys of Jerusalem, in the ravished neighborhoods of Baghdad or Belfast, or in the paths that cross any border, in every place the sun passed, only one language was spoken, LOVE.
Because then, when people weren’t people we were all hearts!
Hearts that spoke a common and unpronounceable language that could be smelled, tasted, seen, and touched. A language that did not need words or written symbols, only glances and caresses.
It is said that when SING-SING was born, his mother took his body in her arms and hugged it, and she gazed at him in that language I tell you they spoke and he understood. The same thing happened when ACORAZADO saw light for the first time, strong and bold he swelled up to pump his own blood and savor the life that was bestowed upon him. Rejoicing in his own luck.
ACORAZADO and SING-SING grew up together, without differences, covered with the harmony of that creates the absence of pain and sadness. They shared their world with all the other hearts on earth, and with them surged the warmth of the days and the crisp of the night, sustained by their journeys of work and play, and in this special language that united them.
But one day, life came with words, the world was scattered with letters and the mouths of all hearts were adorned with voices and sounds. They say that the night before in a remote place a playful god punished the arrogance of the hearts for wanting to build a tower that reached the sky, and he gave them speech, so that they wouldn’t understand one another, and they stopped seeing, smelling, tasting and touching each other, and they spoke. And when they did not understand one another, they realized their differences and they dressed in skin and bones, and they learned another common language, HATE, which still breathes in their gaze.
That day, my son, we stopped being hearts and we became what we are now. Since then ACORAZADO recognized his strength and used it. SING-SING embraced his passion and allowed it to lead him, while all the other hearts became prisoners of their own weaknesses and virtues and with them began building history, as we know it now.
The History Of the rich and the poor, Of the wise and the barbarian, Of victors and vanquishers, Of the east and the west, Of the north and of the south.
But even after so many centuries, red, black, white, or yellow, we all have a heart of the same color. It is time that you knew that it not only beats, that inside of it, is where smiles are invented and tears are made, and even now if you try hard enough and look deep into it, you will be able to learn to speak LOVE, our first language.
Then she looked at me, and thinking I was asleep, she kissed me again.