The trouble with language

Fiona Banner, Every Word Unmade, 2007

Before moving on from text and language – at least temporarily, there’s more I want to write about at some point – it seems like a good idea to go back to the basic building blocks of text: letters and punctuation.  Typography is more usually the domain of designers but given that lots of artists have concerned themselves with language as a sign system, it’s no great surprise that some have also worked with its constituent parts.

In Every Word Unmade, Fiona Banner presents the alphabet as an opportunity for communication; the basic letterforms have the potential to become words.

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The stuff of art (and life)

Vong Phaophanit Neon Rice Field 1993

Vong Phaophanit, Neon Rice Field, 1993

Rice is a staple. It’s a foodstuff a large portion of the world’s population depends on. For those of us with the luxury of choice whose diet has become mixed as a result of the movement of people, goods and traditions, it has less cultural significance but is nonetheless something we take for granted, while knowing we could survive without it. For us it could perhaps be argued that art is something akin to a staple. We could perhaps find a substitute if push came to shove but in its own way it nourishes us. Mix the two and you have Vong Phaophanit’s Neon Rice Field an extraordinary installation for which Phaophanit was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994.

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Solid water

20120222-161633.jpgRoni Horn, Well and Truly, 2009-10

The is a something visually confusing about Roni Horn’s Well and Truly, on show at the moment in at Punta della Dogana as part if the exhibition In Praise of Doubt. The work consists of a number of similar cast glass sculptures each of which looks like water, solidified – but somehow, inexplicably, as solid water, rather than ice – in the form of a low straight-sided dish (that is, as a short column with a slight rounding where the sides meet the base). The sides look sanded (though this is from contact with the mold during casting) but the tops, which dip slightly, are clear and reflect their surroundings.

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