“I LOVE YOU” is a 5-hour durational performance that interrogates the melting of linguistic form. Communication is limited to a single utterance, “I love you,” while the performing body is literally stressed with a rectangular piece of glass. The oversized glass overwhelms Suryodarmo, who struggles under its weight, bulk and fragility. Like the phrase “I love you,” glass is simultaneously powerful and vulnerable. The material is strong and resilient but a simple hit at the wrong angle might cause it to shatter. As she carries its weight on her back, Suryodarmo is also balancing the glass upon her back.
As a polygot, fluent in Indonesian, German, English and Javanese, Suryodarmo has observed different linguistic expressions of love. While ‘love’ is generally understood as an emotion, the word ‘love’ is also a label, an utterance that is removed from the real emotion. English speakers can and do constantly redefine this word through personal experiences and while in conversation with other speakers. The word is not indexical but collectively constructed. While the burden of each language does stress and restrain the speaker, there is a kind of way, through repetition and durationality, that the individual can touch on the tensions of linguistic meaning and blur the substance of the language.