An image of Kesh alphabet

Emily Floyd

(Australia 1972 – )

Kesh alphabet

Not on display
Further information

Emily Floyd's practice draws on the legacies of modernist abstraction, feminist design and radical politics. She frequently engages other disciplines in her work, including literature.

'Kesh alphabet' references a fictional alphabet described by the feminist science-fiction writer Ursula Le Guin in her 1985 novel Always Coming Home, an anthropological study of the future Kesh society. The book's coda includes an infographic of the Kesh alphabet and a glossary of invented words, which together underpin Le Guin's attempt to imagine an alternative, matriarchal social model.

In Floyd's distinctive typographic style, 'Kesh alphabet' spells out the Kesh noun banhe, which translates into English as 'inclusion', 'insight' and 'female orgasm'. Writ large in the heart of a patriarchal institution, the work affirms a strictly female space of experience and pleasure, which Le Guin aligns linguistically - not by coincidence - with a shift in perception and the redistribution of agency.

Encountered at first in the abstract, the work is offered by Floyd as 'a spell or invocation', one that conjures a different future while reminding us that language is a system through which world views are shaped and expressed.

Sculpture, Installation, Print
aluminium, two part epoxy paint, steel fixtures, screen prints on paper
dimensions variable
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Atelier and Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2016
Accession number
© Emily Floyd