Loquebantur variis linguis
by Teju Cole
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) wrote his setting of “Loquebantur variis linguis” according to the account of the Day of Pentecost given in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. When the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, they began to “speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.”
I have drawn five self-portraits on the theme, imagining a choir composed of myself in multiplicate. But I wish to evoke, too, my experience of Pentecostal Christianity, which included speaking in tongues. The preaching I received, and which I passed on to others, was that the purpose of these untranslated and mystical utterances was to sidestep the Devil and to reach God directly.
These drawings were made on the iPhone using the Sketchbook app. I value this technique especially for its immediacy: the artist’s finger serves as the pencil.