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Broken English is My Mother Tongue.

Single channel 2K video, 9'00", 2020.

Commissioned by Andrew Brooks at the Sydney Review of Books


When I started school in Australia I was put in a special class for ESL children. I was horrified to learn that I couldn’t speak English. I thought I spoke English just fine. Little did I know, it was actually Broken English that I spoke.

Many years later, as an adult, I was involved in a little open mic poetry community. Someone posted a recording from one of these events, and once again I was horrified; this time by the sound of my voice. It sounded so foreign to me. So Anglo-Australian. I had dropped my guard somewhere along the way and my Broken English had given way to an Art School Anglo-Aussie English with hints of Westie.

It took a while to recover from this shock and I momentarily stopped performing my work. After a while it became apparent to me that the only way to reclaim my voice was to return to my mother tongue: Broken English.


Thanks also to Catriona Menzies-Pike and Alice Desmond at SRB for assistance.

Video, post-production and score by Kuba Dorabialski.
Inspired by conversations with my mother.

Assassin mother - Iwona Dorabialski
Assassinee son - Kuba Dorabialski
Driver - Dennis Hart

Production assistance:
Szymon Dorabialski
Gosia Hart
Tyne Hart
Katy B Plummer
Monica Rudhar

Car kindly provided by Dennis Hart


Filmed on Wodiwodi and Garigal land.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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