editor's note

In her essay titled “Language is Migrant” Cecilia Vicuna writes: “20 years ago, I opened up the word ‘migrant,’ seeing it as a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined ‘migrant’ was probably composed of mei, (Latin), to change or move, and gra, ‘heart’ from the Germanic kerd. Thus, ‘migrant’ became: ‘changed heart,’ a heart in pain, changing the heart of the earth. The word “immigrant” really says: ‘grant me life.'”

Once, in a moment of feeling lost, I desired to vomit all language out of me and take on a new one.

Part of me believes that one can find home in language, or create home from language. We use words to create and maintain relationships, to set up boundaries and to process who and where we are, regardless of our location. Another part of me understands language as specifically tied to geographical places. Aside from translational differences between languages, words carry different meaning in different contexts.

What happens when we are separated from our language or the place we live in? Where then is home, how do we speak?


The second issue of Close Distance seeks the structures and narratives that compose language, home and movement, and considers the latter as interchangeable concepts to the point that these three concepts collapse into one and become a symbol of a sense of belonging or of not belonging.

The full issue is available online for free.

For the limited print edition of Close Distance issue 2, graphic designer Pouya Ahmadi, has taken the content of the issue and created a satin scarf from it––literally materializing the language into a sheet that forms a second skin between our body and the world. The scarf is reinterpreted as a metaphor for home, built from language and movement through a fabric so versatile. As objects, scarves can provide shelter from exposure, express religious believes, become a fashion accessory, or can be used as a surface to sit on, sleep on or under, and eat from. It is up to the wearer what purpose it may serve.

Acknowledgements: this issue would not be what it is without the generous help, advice and patience of Pouya Ahmadi, Daniel Gibson, Timo Fahler, Molly Surazhsky, Stacey Nishimoto, and Dina and her mother.