Ieva Misevičiūtė

Tongue PhD


The tongue bares the memory of the animal, the instinctual, but also is the main tool with which we express our humanness. The chapters of the performance Tongue PhD (2015) each investigate a different metaphoric lens of the tongue. The tongue is a bridge between madness and intelligence. The more the tongue sticks out of the mouth, the less socially appropriate it is.

In this performance, academic vocabulary slips into poetic register and animalistic formulas where imaginative creatures gurgle in their environments. This solo piece fuses elements of physical theater, academic reverie, dance and Butoh [jap. 舞踏], structured in the format of a PhD dissertation. In some languages, the same word denotes both a speech and a tongue. Tongue is the muscle of speech, stretching through the whole body. It is a link between human communication and the instinctual world, between insanity and common sense.

Metaphor is a figure of speech (a figure of a tongue), which assigns the value of an item to another on the basis of their similarity. The connection of the tongue acting as a metaphorical device is can be established in the origin of the word μεταφέρω [metafero]—to carry, move, transport—the tongue, the secretion of saliva, the information transmitted and connections formed through them become a metaphysical network of human relations. Did you know that a person salivates three whole pools of clear, sticky liquid throughout one’s lifetime? Whilst humanity can just as easily subsist on direct speech and clicks of the tongue, it is precisely the understanding of metaphors and their alternate uses of the tongue (sticking it out further and touching), that have overridden the evolution of culture; some of humanity’s biggest ideas only came to be understood through metaphors of the tongue, conveyed both verbally and physically.