把 / Hand Full

Installation with video and objects

2014

Systems of classification vary across languages, offering distinct ways of understanding the world. The Mandarin classifier (量词) serves as a revealing site of difference between English and Chinese taxonomies. In Chinese grammar, a classifier must precede most specified or numbered nouns in any given sentence. Each classifier pertains to a certain set of nouns, which usually share a particular form or quality. While Chinese classifiers perform fundamental work as linguistic and cognitive tools, they generally lack English equivalents and are therefore absent in English translation. This installation is comprised of several objects under the classifier 把 (Ba). The word relates to a hand's grasp, uniting these objects under one category based on their "graspability." The video explores these objects in relation to the hand.