Joseph Beuys, Stephen Birch, Chris Bond, Mark Brown, Vicky Browne, Ian Burn, Mitch Cairns, Christian Capurro, Carla Cescon, Gunter Christmann, Declan Clarke, Mikala Dwyer, James Ford, Julie Fragar, Alex Gawronski, Adrian Gebers, Matthys Gerber, David Haines, Shane Haseman, Emily Hunt, Biljana Jancic, Sean Kerr, Geoff Kleem, Steinar Haga Kristensen, David McDiarmid, Robert MacPherson, Clare Milledge, Michelle Nikou, Luke Parker, Mike Parr, Tanya Peterson, Debra Phillips, Elizabeth Pulie, Michael Riley, Elvis Richardson, Koji Ryui, Paul Saint, Sandra Selig, Michael Stevenson, Mary Teague, Torben Tilly, Justin Trendall, Ronnie van Hout
Curated by Scott Donovan
25 June – 16 July 2015
Date | 25 June 2015
Time | 6 – 8pm
The use of text in art, as more than a mere descriptive aid, derives from conceptual and post-painterly practices of the 1960s. Of course there were important precedents, most notably in the influential philosophical/critical works of Réne Magritte or Marcel Duchamp, however it could be argued that it was not until the 1960s, with art’s disciplinary parameters already radically expanded, that the relationship to words could take centrestage. Part of this shift may be traced to the rise of advertising and its colonisation of the post-war urban spaces of the United States in particular. In a European context it could also be traced to the influence of the structuralist and post-structuralist theories of philosophers as diverse as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes. These thinkers were some of the first to consider at length language’s relationship to the Image. For them, and in a variety of ways, language could never simply be illustrative. In fact, as Foucault would point out in his famous essay on Magritte’s iconic painting La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) — The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) — 1929, words and pictures were irreducible to one another; they spoke to one another without language being able to take the upper hand. Words painted worlds while texts could be images.
Writing Art illustrates that the use of text has evolved into an integral and multifaceted aspect of contemporary art. The use of text may be fundamentally material, focusing on the resonant connotations of words. It may be punning and self-referential. It may be spatial and constructive. It may draw close to poetry while maintaining a strong visual identity. It may be documentarian, or mockingly so where text is suggested as part of a narrative or fictional archive. Ultimately, it is the sheer mutability of the textual within the context of the visual arts that allows it to keep speaking, among works and to an ever-growing audience receptive to the form.