Language is a very primal expression of self.

Alex grew up in North West London and is a defence and security analyst. He has always had a great interest in people and their stories and in language as a very primal expression of the self, as he puts it: ‘Words always have a purpose. We often forget that. Words are weapons, of course, or can be weapons. We are always trying to do something with language.’
The question of words and how they shape identity is also problematic for Alex: ‘I have this ‘insider and outsider’ relationship with a lot of different communities. (I have) lots of different overlapping identities. (They) don’t necessarily fit, (and) never necessarily fitted easily together, but in the past that was not such a problem. I think in recent years it’s (becoming more) difficult to reconcile these different parts of one’s life.’ ‘New political realities mean we are being forced to define our identity in negative terms, “what we are not” and that makes reconciling diverse historical and cultural inheritance extremely difficult.’

For Alex geopolitical change and competition is a ‘dislocation, a rupturing of borders and identity. The cosmopolitan world of open borders and adventure, shared values which seemed to envelop the globe and with which I grew up is fast receding. I’m profoundly upset about losing that freedom geographically, conceptually and linguistically. This is a point of historical rupture, my links to that past world feel almost unbridgeable. I don’t know what this means for the future.There are a lot of unanswered questions, not just geographic ones, but also related to one’s community and the struggle to claim the words we use to define ourselves.’

This project is part of the initiative ‘Stand Together and Go Virtual’, supported by the German Embassy London and the Goethe-Institut London.