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At a time when ever-greater numbers of people are bilingual (or trilingual), it’s often the case that the language someone most regularly talks in isn’t the same as the language they think in. A mother tongue precedes any other tongue—the umbilical idiom an individual instinctively falls back on, and the one they feel most at home in. The title of Kondo Heller’s video MU/T/T/ER plays on the word for ‘mother’ in German—a language, like English, with which she is intimately familiar without it always feeling unconditionally, authentically familial. In this video and audio collage, compiled where Heller was living during lockdown, snatches of English and German share the space with remembered or re-discovered Swahili. As a background murmur to all these, a subliminal but ubiquitous resident voice surfaces in the spluttered mutterings and stuttered utterances that are the common parlance of someone living alone. These fragments of inner monologue, mumbled under one’s breath or spoken out loud, are matched to different rooms in the house, as if to echo different facets of the self. A poetic reminder of the patterns and habits of introspection, and the quiet tumult of everyday personal thoughts that reverberate within.


Type of film
Running Time
18 min
Esther Kondo Heller

Production status


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Last updated 1st January 2022

Production Company

Film and Video Umbrella