WORD + WORKWASSILY KANDINSKY, LOUISE BOURGEOIS, AGNES MARTIN, MERET OPPENHEIM, JOSEPH BEUYS, DONALD JUDD, LEE UFAN, RICHARD TUTTLE, HELMUT FEDERLE, ERNST CARAMELLE, ALICE CREISCHER, LIAM GILLICK, ANDREA FRASER, ANDREAS FOGARASI
Texts written by artists are a fascinating mix of art history, politics, philosophy, science, and even poetry, all of which provide artists with inspiration. In the broad field of artists’ writings, we encounter statements, contributions to art catalogues and magazines, political comments, critical analyses, and manifestos mixed in with autobiographical notes and, very often, wonderful poems. Artists write about their artistic strategies, or they make self-assertive and self-assuring statements that underline their intentions and practice. But often as not, these texts are completely unconnected and independent from the artists’ artworks.
Artists who write tend to take liberties and conquer spaces. They allow themselves to meddle with contradictions and provocations; they challenge the norms of certain genres, or they simply ignore them. Art critics and art historians consistently regard these texts with skepticism and caution, especially when the authority of the written word in art discourse is at stake. Due to their subjectivity and often unconventional poignancy, however, texts written by artists can also be regarded as material evidence and as essential to the conceptual apparatus that shapes an artist’s work. As such, they should be understood as integral to art history and critical theory.
The textual practices of visual artists have great inspiring power and scope. That was the starting point of our exhibition. We decided to exhibit artists’ artworks alongside their writings, as equals. The texts were distributed according to a system of association that both avoided a prescriptive interpretation and also ensured the autonomous presence of the artworks.
The book, published for the occasion, reflects the multifarious connections between the gallery space, artworks, and texts in two ways, on the one hand as a diagrammatic representation, on the other as a photographic documentation.