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by Veronika Tzekova


In my artistic practice I mainly deal with intervention, appropriation and participation; focusing on rethinking and transforming objects, situations and systems and I am mostly, but not only, exhibiting my work in public spaces, in and outdoors.

Within (UN)COMMON SPACES project, I am conducting a research and elaborating my concept “CDoupbles”. The “CDoupbles” (Portmanteau word from „couples“ and „doubles“) look at the language through the magnifying glass of the set theory and reveal unexpected treasures and liaisons that are hidden in numerous words. Somehow, through the evolution of languages, happened that some words contain other words, which are not root words and nestle there by pure chance. There are many such relationships between words, but I am only interested in those that have the potential to create meanings, raise questions, and offer the viewer a rich playground for interpretations. Such a symbiosis between two words transforms from an inconspicuous duckling into a proud swan, into a “CDoupble”, in various ways, depending on the design of the object, the installation, the layout, the typography, and so on. The meanings are produced through the coexistence of the words in the imagination of viewers and depend on the associations provoked. “CDoupbles” are exciting mini-scenarios that celebrate the surprising and the intriguing that language has to offer. I am interested in staging “CDoupbles”, as performances and installations in public space, interacting with the environment and availability and, when possible, in an interactive/participatory forms.


“CDoupbles” is a series dealing with a very particular language phenomenon, which occurs in a number of languages. Developing it within a project by a European network, such as IN SITU with its almost dozen of languages spoken, offers plenteous research material and vast playground to experiment.

The German language is really a broad and an inspiring playground for the “CDoupbles”. There are hundreds of words containing, once again not as a root word, but by pure chance the word “Tiere” (en. animals). Many of them are verbs, actions performed by humans, e.g.: profiTIEREn[1] (en. to benefit), sekreTIEREn (en. to secret) or adapTIEREn (en. to adapt). There is an uncountable amount of what I named “SAU Komposita”, compound words in which the word "Sau" (en. sow) occurs in the process of word formation, e.g.: InflationSAUsgleich (en. inflation compensation), KriegSAUsbruch (en. outbreak of war), KrebSAUslöser (en. cancer trigger), LuxuSAUto (en. luxury car), GesichtSAUsdruck (en. facial expression), ZukunftSAUssichten (en. future prospects), etc. 

This was the spark that started my fascination, bordering with obsession for “hunting” for animals. After looking for and collecting non-living nature elements such as stones, earth and sand. In 2023, I narrowed my research focus and I looked for non-human life forms, but mainly animals in words in different languages. I continued researching not only in German and so far I have more than 50 animals, which „reside“ hidden in other words. This phenomenon is especially fascinating when the animal words are interpreted as animal metaphors, a word (or phrase) that expresses a resemblance or similarity between human being and a particular animal or animal class: dummes Vieh (en. stupid beast/animal), seltener Vogel (en. rare bird), blöder Affe (en. stupid monkey), Dinosaurier (en. (in a figurative meaning) dinosaur), alter Esel (en. old donkey), großer Fisch (en. big fish), armer Hund (en. poor dog).

It is is a fascinating, absurd, humorous and stimulating the imagination fantasy world, prompting playfulness, but also critical thinking, inviting us to get in touch with the animal in each of us and thus with the human in each of us as part of a bigger system of living and non-living nature. 

Animals are everywhere, even in the basics and essentials of our existence and system. As a teaser I would mention a few examples with animals that are often used as animal metaphors in many languages. Donkey is usually used to describe a stupid or inept person and sheep is used to refer to people who are too easily influenced or led. These two, “Esel” (en. donkey) and “Schaf” (en. sheep), reside in the German word for society: “gESELlSHAFt”. Monkey, we would call a mischievous person or a person who is dominated or controlled by another. In the realm of Danish language “abe” (en. monkey, ape) resides in “alfabet” (en. alphabet) and inevitably than in “analfabet” (en. illiterate). The ants are associated with hard-working, organisation and discipline. These diligent creatures populate the restaurANTS, are included in the antidepresANTS, and contributed even to the Ten CommandmANTS. And of course, it is no surprise that the idiom “have ants in one's pants” exists. Ancient European and modern Western culture generally associates owls with wisdom and vigilance, so here it is quietly sitting in “knOWLedge”.  

Slowly, the European Language Zoo no longer seems such an abstract idea. I would like to end with another example. I chased the “cat” within the languages of IN SITU. And here is the itinerary:

- in French I met “chat” (en. cat) in a castle (fr. CHATeau);

- in Czech I found “kočka” (en. cat) in KloKOČKA, a district of the town of Bakov nad Jizerou in the Czech Republic, located north west of the city in the valley of the Rokytka stream and consisting only of a baroque building ensemble with a chapel and forester's house;

- in Norwegian “katt” (en. cat) hides in “SKATTekiste” (en. treasure chest), as well as “kat” in Danish;

- in Dutch  “kat” (en. cat) resides in “KAThedraal” (en. cathedral). Cathedrals, as any building are composite geometric shapes and are polyhedral, but in English they are also “CAThedral;

- in Spanish “gato” (en. cat) had less luck and landed in “purGATOrio” (en. purgatory);

- in Hungarian, one finds “macska” (en. cat) in “MACSKAköves” (en. cobblestone);

- in Italian “gatto” parasites in “biGATTO” (en. silkworm);

- in Albanian “mace” is an essential component of the “FarMACEutike” (en. pharmaceuticals);

- in German “Katze” lives inside of each PlaKATZeichner (en. poster artist), and appears as the Cheshire Cat when you write my name and family name without a space: veroniKATZEkova.


Some examples of the “CDoupbles Zoo” were part of La Strada Festival in Graz (2023) and AUDIO IBRIDA project by ZONA K in Milano (2022). The exhibition program of my long-term project “SchAUGEnuss”, where I am showing monthly thematic selection of the series “CDoupbles” at a display window of the hybrid space “Atelier 12” in Graz, Austria, in 2023 also focused only on the “CDoupbles Zoo”. Additionally, a selection of 22 different animals in 22 German words was presented in an exhibition featuring different collections at the end of 2023/beginning 2024 in Graz, Austria.

8.2.2024, Graz

[1]   I usually write the word that exist in the main word with capital letters.