In this video three young Senegalese boys are being taught the pronunciation of words in their native Wolof language that relate to shades of light and dark—of which there are many. They sit with their teacher in a dimly lit room, their eyes, skin, and clothes barely reflecting the light of a single fluorescent tube. As moths cling to the tube and slowly flutter their wings, attracted by its light and warmth, the children struggle to pronounce the proper phonemes for each word, discovering that each slight difference in vocal expression produces a different meaning.
Làk-kat is projected for exhibition in a small, dark room that mirrors the scene in the video. Viewers sit on a bench directly opposite the projection and are drawn deeply into the music of the language through the tension between image and sound. The work has been reproduced with French, German, and American and British English subtitles; each translation reveals the subtle differences between interpretation and the meaning assigned to words in a language. Sala often works with video projections, drawing from life’s details to focus on the liminal aspects of culture, movement, sound, and language, exploring how meaning is created.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights sicne 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 244.