7 2 P R I M A R Y C O L O U R S
The 3 primary colours in 24 European languages
This work represents the names of the primary colours in the 24 most spoken languages in Europe at the time. The word order is fixed to red-yellow-blue. The names in languages using non-Roman scripts are transcribed into French.
A random colour is assigned to each letter of the alphabet; the names of the primary colours can therefore be written in coloured squares instead of letters. The assigned colours apply to all 3 works.
The first work (above) represents the 3 primary colours spelled out individually in each of the 24 languages. The resulting 24 embroideries are arranged from top left to bottom right according to each language's number of speakers, in descending order.
The second work (below left) shows all 24 x 3 primary colours one after the other, again arranged according to each language's number of speakers, in descending order. The words are separated from each other by a colourless square.
In the third work (below right), the letters of all 24 x 3 primary colour names are sorted and arranged alphabetically from top to bottom, thus creating a pattern of stripes of different lengths with the longest stripe defining the width of the work.
This body of work was produced in pre-Internet days. The gathering of information was slow and labourious: It involved library research, phone calls to foreign embassies and visits to the various language institutes of the University of Geneva.
All embroideries were realised by local artisans in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
(Embroidered cotton, 24 works, each 15 x 15 cm, 2 works, 52 x 34 cm and 52 x 70 cm, 1999)