Quebec has a long and complex history of language battles and linguistic conflicts that are still affecting its multicultural society today. The expression “Speak White” was used by English authorities in the late 60s to regulate and supervise the activities of French workers. “Speak White” is also the name of a poem written in 1968 by Michèle Lalonde that critiques the cultural, economic and social inferiority of the French-Canadians in Quebec, shortly after the Quiet Revolution. “Speak What” was written years later by poet Marco Micone from Quebec, but native to Italy, in response to the first poem. His version suggests that ethnic and linguistic intolerances prevailing in the province are now directed against immigrants.
Speak places both poems in a same graphic context, emphasizing the idea that one’s meaning and functionality exists only in relation to the other's. The poster diptych speaks to the prevalent duality of language in the province of Quebec, where both French and English languages are vital to its culture and social fabric. Speak pursues a spirit of openness respectful to Quebec’s French, English and multicultural communities.
Speak won the Surface 3 Design Award at Spectrum, the graduating students' final design display held at Concordia University in June 2016.