Vorschriften is a project that relies on invented language to translate intimate details. These paintings use pictographic alphabets to spell out words pertaining to the complex relationships we have with our bodies— particularly things that are uncomfortable, surreal, confusing, traumatic, or abstract. I'm interested in creating a positive space for stories about bodies that are often silenced, shamed, or otherwise met with cultural muteness. I'm also curious about how playfulness and nonsense can be used to interpret difficult experiences.

This series is inspired by the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of vorschriften, which were writing samples made in the late 1700s to mid 1800s using a distinctive German calligraphic script called fraktur. The pieces of vorschriften I’ve made here spell out words based on original alphabets, with each letter of the English alphabet corresponding to a personally relevant symbol. As a consequence of the spelling process, disparate symbols are closely arranged within the same composition. This speaks to my own experience that conflicting elements— joy and humiliation, self-consciousness and self-confidence, humor and heartbreak— often live together at the same time in the same body. My aim with this project, and with my creative practice as a whole, is to give space to this reality.

You can see the most current version of my own alphabet here.

Want to participate in a transcription? I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email at anne (at) annebuckwalter.com.