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The Space of Words : Heterogeneous relationships between words and space
The Space of Words
Heterogeneous relationships between words and space
Christophe Gallois, April 20, 2009
The Space of Words focuses on the pratice of eleven artists from different generations and explores heterogeneous relationships between words and space. It concerns two principal axes: the spatial presentation of language and the evanescence of meaning.

“For me, words have a temperature. When they reach a certain degree and start to get heated, I am attracted to them… Sometimes I dream that if a word gets too hot it will evaporate and I will no longer be able to read or think it. Mostly I capture the words before they get too hot.” The evanescence of words described by Edward Ruscha in this quotation illustrates the type of relationships that certain artists have with language: the creation of slippages between language and image and between language and space, highlighting not so much equivalent relationships as the dynamics of heterogeneity, sometimes resulting in their mutual effacement.

One of the sources of inspiration for this project was a conference given in 2004 by French philosopher Jacques Rancière. The Mudam exhibition has borrowed the title. In L’Espace des mots, Rancière takes Marcel Broodthaers’ appropriation of Mallarmé’s book Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (“A throw of the dice will never abolish chance”) as a starting point. By replacing the words on the space of the page with black bands that cancel out the meaning, Broodthaers presents the surface of exchange between language and space as a “space of confrontation” based on “a pratice of word and image which underligns their distance.” (Rancière)


The Space of Words/Gander_Felix Provides a Stage Again
The Space of Words/Gander_Felix Provides a Stage Again
 
The Space of Words focuses on a series of gestures that activate different types of gaps between language and space including effacement, alteration, loss of memory, the exploding of meaning and the transfer of the space of the page to the exhibition space. The common denominator of these gestures may be the central role given to the notion of reading and the process of interpretation, appropriation and editing thus implied. The disappearance of meaning, the silences and gaps that characterize several works in the exhibition thus operate as “spaces for thought” (to re-use Ruscha’s words concerning a series of canvases bearing effaced words).

The Space of Words/Aurélien Froment_Théâtre de poche, 2007_Store, London and Motive Gallery, Amsterdam_Aurélien Mole
The Space of Words/Aurélien Froment_Théâtre de poche, 2007_Store, London and Motive Gallery, Amsterdam_Aurélien Mole
 
A Sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped from my table and fell to the floor (2008) by Ryan Gander shows the evanescence of meaning. The piece consists of a hundred crystal balls, each containing an engraving of a falling leaf. These objects evoke projects that are not produced and potential ideas. The series of large-format posters Felix Provides a Stage Again (2008) presents some studio experiments with leaves suspended in space, to define the shape of the engraved leaves. La Pluie (projet pour un texte) (1969) by Marcel Broodthaers echoes Gander’s work. This 16mm film shows Broodthaers writing a text with a pen in the rain which is gradually effaced as it is being written. Other works by the artist also address the question of effacement, such as the series of twelve plaques in Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard (1969), or the installation Le Corbeau et le renard (1967-1972). Silence and the space between words are the main elements of the sound installation LeBout de la langue (The tip of the tongue) (1994/2009) by Dominique Petitgand, a piece about words “trapped by the disfunctioning of memory”. (Petitgand)

Two pieces that are of central importance in the exhibition are the paintings Blue Collar Tool & Die (1992) and The Old Tool & Die Building (2004) by Edward Ruscha.


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