Concrete Language takes as a starting point the genre of concrete poetry, a type of verse where meaning is conveyed by the shapes formed by letters, words or symbols.
Laurel Woodcock, Quotation (neon blue) (2005), blue neon tube, transformers, edition of 10 [Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Sept 8 to Nov 5]
Co-curated by Jenifer Papararo and Christina Ritchie, the exhibit includes the work of Michael Baers (USA/Germany); Fiona Banner, Martin Creed and Cerith Wyn-Evans (UK); Filipa César (Portugal), Ian Grais, Denise Oleksijczuk, Ron Terada, Ian Wallace, Laurel Woodcock and Elizabeth Zvonar (Canada); Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (Korea/USA); Antonia Hirsch (Canada/Germany); Vibeke Tandberg (Norway); and Lawrence Weiner (USA).
These sixteen artists create contemporary works that utilize, exploit, appropriate or reference concepts of language as their basis. The works range from subtle manipulations of the viewers own reading of the artworks to a literal use of language as a medium. In some cases, words or punctuation marks are objects in themselves shapes without specific meaning; or metaphors in conjunction with other imagery: for example, by singling out individual words and presenting them in a graphic style, or by spatially juxtaposing words and phrases with signs and other images. Some artworks are abstract, some conceptual and others site-specific.
The manner in which we read is flipped over, scrutinized, manipulated and reflected back to us. The artists in general are less interested in establishing meaning or enforcing their own intentions on viewers than in acknowledging the viewers role in defining meaning. They point to the manner in which the use of language in itself necessitates perception, reading, cognition and communication.