(Don’t) stick out your tongue


Artist Ina Loitzl defies convention and shows us the biggest tongue we’ve ever seen: „Lingua“

Her installation ‘Lingua’ is now on show in Breitenfeld church. Social issues are central themes in the work of Josefstadt resident Ina Loitzl. In her visual art she likes to use embroidered collage, animation and textile objects. Her interactive installation ‘Lingua – speaking in many tongues’ is on show in Breitenfeld church until 21 June.

The 3-metre tongue made of latex and synthetic leather was hung above the altar at Pentecost. This feast marks the birth of the Christian church. According to the New Testament, tongues of fire appeared above the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem at the time of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot – filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak about God in many languages and all the people gathered there could suddenly understand them. 

The parish of Breitenfeld with its dedicated priest Gregor Jansen also tries to speak all the world’s languages. It is part of the Austrian parish network for asylum and home to an Indian community, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Pleasure and provocation. Ina Loitzl is fascinated by this muscle that ‘contains both pleasure and revulsion’. The tongue is essential for speaking as well as for chewing, sucking and swallowing and has sensory receptors for touch and taste. Many Covid patients (temporarily) lost the latter. ‘This also means a loss of pleasure. And the tongue has an important function as an organ of touch, too. Just think of the intimacy of a French kiss,’ says Loitzl.

Visitors are invited to write words or sentences in different languages on paper tongues which will be mounted on a big canvas in the church. ‘Whatever you want to say, whether it’s current emotions or wishes for the future,’ says Loitzl. Constantly evolving, this second installation in the entrance area will form a visual whole with the tongue floating above the altar.

Breitenfeld church also has Vienna’s second-biggest playable organ. Tongues play a crucial role here as well: The vibrating metal strip in a reed pipe is called a tongue. Organist Francesco Pelizza regularly makes these tongues ‘speak’ at Saturday evening mass. 

Those whose tongues cannot speak anymore will also be commemorated. On 15 June at 18:30 there will be a memorial service for all those who had to flee their home and have perished on their way to safety. 


issue 02/2021