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An Immersive Oratorio by Lena Herzog

Last Whispers is an experiential, immersive work dedicated to the extinction of languages.

Every two weeks the world loses a language. At an unprecedented speed, faster than the extinction of some species, our linguistic diversity—the very means by which we know ourselves—is eroding. Today, out of the 7,000 languages remaining on Earth, only 30 are spoken among the majority of the world population. It is estimated that at least half of the planet’s currently spoken languages will have died out by the end of this century. Some estimates project a much greater speed of disappearance. In an attempt to raise awareness about this issue, The United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO have declared 2022-2032 the “International Decade of Indigenous Languages.”

Last Whispers: An Immersive Oratorio, created by the artist Lena Herzog, is a project about the mass extinction of languages. By definition, this extinction occurs in silence, since silence is the very form it takes. Last Whispers sounds what has gone silent. While we drown in the noise of our own voices— uttered within dominant cultures and languages—we are surrounded by a vast ocean of silence. Last Whispers aims to further awareness of linguistic extinction on a global scale. 

The result is a visceral, sensory immersion when experienced in any of the formats offered: a fully immersive gallery projection, an audio video theater installation, a virtual reality experience, or a dome or a full sphere projection.

Last Whispers is exhibited in a range of formats—making it flexible to the capabilities of most any venue and accessible to wide audiences globally. 

New for 2022 is a 30-minute, fully immersive work built for VR, dome, sphere and five wall gallery viewing. The new work builds upon the AV experience (45 minutes), which premiered at the British Museum in 2016 and the 360-degree VR prototype (7 minutes) which premiered at the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Program during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Conceptor, director and producer : Lena Herzog
Sound designer and composer : Marco Capalbo & Mark Mangini
Researchers: Theresa Schwartzman & Eveling Villa
In collaboration with The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme and The SOAS World Languages Institute, SOAS, University of London. Co-presented by The Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, UNESCO.
Co-distributor : Lucid Realities

Venice Art Biennale (Italy / 2022)
Théâtre du Châtelet (France / 2022)
George Eastman Museum (USA /2019-2020)


Official selection - Sundance film festival (2019)
Official selection - Festival du nouveau cinéma (2019)
Best Conceptual Dome Short - DTLA Film Festival (Los Angeles 2019)
Official selection - SXSW Film Festival (2019)