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C-ING — Word hybrids and deconstructing to construct again

Veronika Tzekova


Veronika Tzekova (AT), associate artist of La Strada under the (UN)COMMON SPACES project, takes us through her week-long residency and site-specific works for AUDIO IBRIDA at ZONA K in Milan, in October/December 2022.

One week, warm October, Milano, residency with ZONA K. Captivating constellation.

I was feeling curious as usual. The experience was extremely condense, colourful and uplifting challenge at once. In 7 days I had to make it from Graz to Milano and back, visit 16 hybrid spaces part of the project by ZONA K “Hybrid Audio” and have meetings with the people who run them. A quest in the search of the essence of each hybrid space. There was no time to condition myself and gather my courage and concentration. From day one, guided by my formidable assistant Livia Cattoni, I crossed the city in opposite directions, conducted on site visits and conversed, so to dive, immerse, or shall I rather say, be baptised in the several contexts and information pools each day. I had to absorb as much as possible semantically, visually and spatially in order to create for each of hybrid spaces a site-specific work that radiates the essence of each one of them to the participants in the project. The “create” button was pressed and the search ran simultaneously with the filling of the database. The week was over in a blink of an eye, but it is so when one keeps one's eyes open ceaselessly.

I had a bit more than a month to let my controlled fantasy cycle through this one week over and over again, classify, choose, consider, combine, compose and daily co-work and coordinate with the unbelievable Federica Di Rosa who was producing the “AUDIO IBRIDA”. 

I looked for the essence of the hybrid spaces. I looked for the essence put down in words. And than I looked into it. I looked at it through the magnifying glass of the set theory. Deconstructing it to construct it again, so to highlight what I found lying hidden there. Some words have the unfortunate fate to be overused. These needed special treatment, from an ugly duckling to become a beautiful swan. From a cliché, a multilayered visual metaphor.

I work with the visual construction and perception of the language to create mini-scenarios, which in 90% of the cases contain only 2 words and celebrate the surprising and the intriguing that language has to offer.

One concept I applied, was the one of my series „CDoupbles“ (Portmanteau word from „couples“ and „doubles“).
Typically in a “CDoupble” there is a main word, which contains another one/other ones, which is/are definitely not a root word and appears in various ways, depending on the design of the object, installation, layout and typography. There are many such symbioses of words, but I am interested in such that offer playground for creating interesting scenarios and speculations, associations, rise questions, etc.

The other approach I took was the one of my authors' verse form “syllaBlEndings”.  “syllaBlEndings” are short verses fusing two (rarely more) words, positioned on three rows, as the last syllable of the first word is the first syllable of the second word and usually is positioned on the middle row. The two words in the “syllaBlEndings” share, have in common, belong together, are connected, mix, blend, meet, overlap, clash, penetrate each other, are Siamese twins, one is developing/growing into the other, the ending of the one is the beginning of the other, exist in symbiosis, compliment each other. A “syllaBlEndings” is a process.

In both above mentioned concepts the meanings are produced through the coexistence of the words in the imagination of viewers and depend on the associations provoked.

Of course, I took this opportunity and faced the challenge to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with some different modus operandi  and use new for my artistic language  typographical effects and modes of dissecting the language in order to convey and create meanings.

I aimed at poetic and intellectually challenging conceptual portraits of the hybrid spaces,  which I researched. Portraits that highlight with a twist the essence of each them.

Seeing, hereinafter referred to as “c”-ing, so to widen the aspects of it, turned out to be quintessential. I had to see what, I had to see where and I had to see how is to be visualised and placed in- or outdoors at hybrid spaces. From 24th of September till 6th of December 2022 I conceptualised, produced and installed 25 site-specific works for 14 hybrid spaces. “C”-ing did not miss also in the final result. To mention some:

>>> Casa Degli Artisti got a typographical installation where the sight passes from “cross” through “osmosis” to land in “cosmos” 

>>> Stecca 3 couldn't not connect to my proposal highlighting the “cow” in co-working and therefore got an large scale outdoors work, kind of a written portrait, embodying totally new approach to reading and visual perception of language.

>>> Cascina Cuccagna highlighted “intervento dal basso“, in English “grass-root intervention”, as one of their main features. I caught the wind of the place. With “vento” (en. wind) in “intervento” the  “VENTO DEL CAMBIAMENTO” (en. wind of change) blew through the main entrance of this former farmhouse.

>>> In Cascina Sant'ambrogio – Cascinet, among others, a arrow sign was showing the direction to a place where the bees (“api” in Italian) are “cAPI di tutti i capi” ("bosses of the bosses").

>>> Il Cinemino (en. the small cinema), compact and combining a charming cafe and a cinema, got two “syllaBLEndings” displayed on the movie screen and on a cinematic light box.

Working in a vast territory with multiple and diverse realities can be both challenging and rewarding. The variety of cultural microclimates can bring a wealth of perspectives and experiences, but also requires sensitivity and adaptability to communicate effectively. It was important to respect the unique identities and values of each hybrid space. Navigating in these different realities was not easy, but ultimately, it lead to a richer and more comprehensive understanding of the project and my role in it. In the end, working with multiple and diverse spaces and contexts was definitely a growth opportunity for personal and professional development.


Being able to express vast knowledge, information, and multiple experiences with just one word is a remarkable feat of language and human intellect. It requires a deep understanding of the subject matter and ability to synthesize complex ideas into simple concepts. The residency and the consequently developed and installed works were an opportunity to master my artistic language and convey rich and nuanced meanings in a single word, effectively distilling an entire experience or concept into a succinct expression. I hope my contribution to the project was thought-provoking and leading to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the richness and potential of these special places.

The intellectual endeavour to research and create in Italian language, a language that does not belong to my working languages, was indulging for my curiosity, fed my explorer's greed and absolutely enriched my artistic research methods and practice.

And last but not least, my passion for working sight-specific with and in public spaces had an opulent feast, as the span of the typologies of spaces and conditions I had to work with and in was wide-ranging.

I had to “c” a lot. I had to “c” the core to find the compelling. “C”-ing was following me even in the a few moments stepping off-road for lunch with Livia . I had paccheri (a type f pasta, originating from Campania)  cacio pepe e funghi.

Virginia Woolf wrote in an essay: “ the very obvious yet mysterious fact that a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words”, and I would add, part of worlds. The “word” is of a crucial importance for the “world”. What is left from the “world” without the “word” has no meaning. Finally to condense my experience with AUDIO IBRIDA project and working with ZONA K in this manner, it was a travel in multiple worlds, to find the word in and for each of them, a mind-blowing experience engaging all the cells in my body in a creation process.

Veronika Tzekova
March 2023