Mariam Ghani, The Worlds We Speak
Located by the baggage claim, Mariam Ghani‘s The Worlds We Speak uses data visualization techniques to capture New York’s diversity and is her first tile mosaic. Evoking visions of space, the mosaic is divided into six clusters, representing New York’s five boroughs and the tri-state area, and each contains smaller circles depicting the more than 700 languages and dialects spoken in New York. The circles are all different colors and include the name of the language in English and in the language’s script. Data was collected from the last census and the Endangered Language Alliance.
Ghani, an Afghan American, reflected that the airport is a gateway for speakers of hundreds of these languages, all coming together from different parts of the world. Ghani hopes that passersby can see their language and also learn about the multitude of other languages represented. Ghani is the daughter of Ashraf Ghani, the 5th president of Afghanistan who led the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan before it was taken over by the Taliban. Her works have included Index of the Disappeared, a record of the U.S.’s detention of immigrants after 9/11, and The Trespassers, a documentary examining the problems of language translation.