Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art, a recently-launched exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, presents visitors with a look at language as an artistic vehicle. The multi-media exhibition features practically the whole range of media – from paintings to videos and installations. The show even occupied the museum’s elevator with a fun, pop culture-inspired installation.
This traveling exhibition presents works by approximately 50 internationally-acclaimed artists and spans from the 1960s to the 2010s. Each piece challenges the conventional ways of perceiving language – some ask how much transformation happens in the process of translation, some dispute reading in a “line-by-line” fashion, while others raise questions about digital transcribing. Artworks presented here play around with the order of words, their meanings, inconsistencies, and even show what the perception of the words would be if experienced backwards. The exhibition also deals with another important aspect of the language – its transition from a traditional physical form into a digital environment.
Originating in the 1960s and ‘70s, conceptual art rejects objects and instead focuses on the ideas rooted in them. Using unconventional materials as an embodiment of artistic thoughts, artists associated with this movement aspire to demonstrate concepts, not end results. This intriguing exhibition makes connections between art and communication. Visitors can wander around the rooms, completely covered with book pages, texts and huge old-school dynamics. They can even interact with some works.
Some pieces are cute and fun, like Tim Etchells’ Emergency Phone that urges the viewers to pick up the red receiver and follow the directions. Others are more provocative, like one of the most creative works of the show by James Hoff titled Stuxnet after a computer virus that provoked an international scandal. Taking a part of the code and translating its letters into music notes, Hoff creates a melody suggesting nothing close of damage and harm.
Conceptual writing, expressive and abundant in visual information, became trendy among commercial institutions and advertising agencies. This is the key theme of Dexter Sinister’s 20-minute video Idenity, which tells the story of the role of language in the branding of three of the world’s major cultural institutions – MOMA, London’s Tate and Paris’ Centre Georges Pompidou.
This one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of conceptual writing to-date will be on view through the beginning of the February. Keep your eyes open for a great exhibition book that features essays and footnotes by the show’s participating artists.