25 April 2017: TXT, Engine of Wandering Words – Ana Torfs


I saw an amazing exhibition of jacquard tapestries by Ana Torfs early last summer at the Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon. The exhibition – TXT, Engine of Wandering Words – features six beautiful pieces, each depicting examples of ‘wandering words’: ginger, saffron, sugar, coffee, tobacco and chocolate. As Ana Torfs says, ‘The images conjure up very diverse wor(l)ds and eras’ and offer a striking comment on ‘how trade brings languages together’. The use of ‘Wandering Words’ in the exhibition title demonstrates how words wander across the world’s geographies and spread among numerous languages and cultures. The panel above is on chocolate.

Looking at these 25 images, I am struck today by how a new consultation paper from a group of NGOs (VOICE network) that are part of the Cocoa Barometer Consortium reinforces what we see here. The consultation encourages chocolate makers to set a minimum price for cocoa and to eventually move to a flexible premium system. This could help ensure a living income for smallholder cocoa farmers and their dependents who are barely surviving in a pricing structure ravaged by the many factors affecting world trade.