This exhibition focuses on the dynamic, unstable relationship between visual image and language, blurring the boundaries between text as abstract signifier and literal object. The work is compelling in how it uses the two media to create a mysterious alchemy, upending the traditional relationship in which image serves text or text serves image depending on context. The ways that these artists blend and fuse the two means of communication create unstable, lyrical pieces that resist neat categorization.
Some artists in the show mine the ambiguity of written content through decontextualization or visual innuendo. Others infuse banal phrases with a resonance at odds with their intended, often instrumental, purpose. Several artists “write” with unconventional materials: words in porcelain that tend to break, stars used as point sources to create letters, sentence fragments inscribed in a remote forest. One quality the work in this exhibit shares is rather spare means; much of it is akin to poetry in its ability to convey complex content with the least possible words.
Eve Luckring’s Junicho Video-Renku, to be presented at the reading and screening in conjunction with the exhibit, juxtaposes visual imagery with spare phrases suggested by Renku, a linked form of Japanese poetry from the 17th Century. As in the sequence excepted from her book-length poem, The Tender Between, each scene is briefly revealed and folded back into a visually intense whole.
Ramon García’s poetry, to be presented at the reading and screening in conjunction with the exhibit, reflects his practice of collaboration with visual artists and a scholarly interest in visual culture. The poem presented here, Outsider Artist: Martín Ramírez (1895-1963), plumbs the interiority (and imposed isolation) that generated Ramirez’s otherworldly drawings relative to the aggressive exteriority of the Cold War years.