Artist Projects

Tongues of Heaven


Anita Chang

Set in Taiwan and Hawai’i, Tongues of Heaven focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears—languages that are endangered or facing extinction. Using digital video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from divergent backgrounds collaborate and exchange ideas to consider the impact of language on identity and culture. With 96% of the world’s population speaking only 4% of the world’s languages, what does it mean to speak your mother tongue in this age of language homogenization? To put it another way, what do you lose when you lose your native language? These are just some of the questions that these women, with camera in hand, ask themselves, their families and peers.

Project Updates

  • Tongues of Heaven/RootTongue web platform receives a University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Grant

  • 2014: Tongues of Heaven is nominated for the Jason D. Mak Award for Social Justice

  • 2012: Chang completes rough cut of Tongues of Heaven

  • 2008: Chang receives National Geographic All Roads Grant for Tongues of Heaven