To Speak


Jochen Gerz and Sarkis Zabunyan

CR 34. Year 1972

Parler Jochen Gerz Cr 34 2 Web
Parler Jochen Gerz Cr 34 1 Web

The artists sit at a table and speak to each other. Sarkis uses the Armenian language, Gerz speaks German. Neither understands each other. The dialogue lasts for 2 hours.

His approach aims at the deepest psychological layers of man, those interwoven with the daily conduct of his life […]. In order to accomplish this, Gerz tries to cause the greatest possible disorientation, or an obvious absence of solutions, in his environments and performances.

Herbert Molderings 1984

The notions of culture and life, as they are conveyed in his work, might be understood as a form of the "essential dualism" characteristic of the western (humanist) tradition of thinking, in which paired notions such as culture/nature, subject/object, spirit/matter, mind/body, and self/other, are brought in relations of antagonism or exclusion (or even extermination). Gerz, however, does not perpetuate the image of them as the "two" that should become "one", he deconstructs the opposition by introducing a "third" which destabilises the recognisable and easily manipulated "two".

Bojana Pejic 1995

So you would have to master both languages to realize that the artists were uttering monologues, and understand what they were talking about. In underscoring the limit of language as a communication tool, this piece is also a criticism of the video media. “I had to find my way through it (the media), because my work in general always has to do with the non-reality of the communication produced by the technological media. What probably fascinated me the most was the possibility of using the medium in a specific way by showing how it doesn’t work […], by using it for purposes other than those planned". (Jochen Gerz, interview with Rosa Krapp, 1974)

Bénédicte le Pimpec, Isaline Vuille 2018



Table, 2 chairs
Duration 1 hour

Jochen Gerz and Sarkis sit facing each other in conversation at a table, each speaking in his own native language (Turkish, German).

A video documentation exists (671).


Sarkis Zabunyan studio, Paris 1972


I: Darmstadt 1973, pp. 182-188. Köln 1974a, p. 14. Karlsruhe 1975a, pp. 20, 126. Paris 1975a, pp. 17, 58. Bielefeld 1981, pp. 10, 98. Zürich 2000, p. 118. Paris 2002, pp. 36-37, 11-24, 177, 192. Ivry-sur-Seine 2017, pp. 16, 162-163. Genève 2018, pp. 189-190

II: Red. 8, 1972, p. 9. Graf 1974

III: Parent 1972, p. 19

V: Gieser 2022, pp. 328-329

VI: Magazin Kunst 52/1973, p. 100

Access general bibliography


Video, 21:24 min

Vidèo Les Beaux Jours, Strasbourg, and imai, inter media art institute, Düsseldorf

Exhibitions of the documentation

New York 1972. Barcelona 1973. Köln 1974. Paris 1974. Bruxelles 1975. Paris 1977. Paris 2002 (Strasbourg 2002. Liechtenstein 2002). Geneva 2018

My name is Jochen Gerz