press release

Visual poetry examines the tensions between the semantics and visual image of (written) language. The exhibition Word Out of Joint does not seek to neutralize this tension, but to keep it alive. Let us begin with the premise that the main aim of the exhibition is to present the field of visual poetry as a form of resistance to the exhaustion of the natural language and an attempt to discover a new, expanded linguisticality. The birth of a new language consciousness. In visual poetry, this necessarily happens as the play of inter-media, in a continuous hybridisation of media formats. Visual poetry is multimedia in the same way that language itself is a multimedia phenomenon, as it is capable of using and combining different communication channels. One of the aims of this exhibition is to present visual poetry as agitation, a breakthrough raising awareness, as suggested by the title, which is a paraphrase of the famous line from Hamlet, but with a charge of positive resistance to the logic of the signifier. This resistance is found in the work of the Czech artist Adam Vackar, whose neo-Dadaist poems, computer-generated from the text of Marx’s Capital, emerge as Derridean spectres of Marx, as we are not sure whether they are witnesses of the living past or foretell the living future. The exhibition Word Out of Joint first seems to evoke a kind of ‘historicity’, not in the sense of a creative homage, but as a return to the splendid articulation of several neuralgic points, pending problems of the contemporary and transgressive in art, as well as to its fundamental problems. One of these is language; as Wittgenstein says: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” The very attempt to break through, expand and overcome these limits is the unique leitmotif of all the artists in the show. By different re-mapping tactics, Vlado Martek’s maps erase the limits set by the tired utilitarian language of political manipulation, while other works seek to discover new fields of reading. The latter is the context of the works by Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos and his ‘negation of images’, which does not concede to banal iconoclasm, but subverts established meaning and questions value systems, including art itself: “negating an image by creating it from words / negating a word by painting means / that it does not mean what it means when written down…” Reformulation of this stance is found in the works of HYPERLINK "" Stanisław Dróżdż, who by making use of wordplays explores the possibilities of “writing in images”. To discuss the practices of these artists inevitably leads back to Heidegger’s rendition of language as the house of Being; or better yet, to Žižek’s paraphrase of this famed formulation – language is not a comfortable, happy ‘house’, it is not a home, but a gaol-house, the human being is a subject caught in and tortured by language. Because of the irredeemable gap between subject and language, the co-existence of subject and language is by no means harmonious. Language is not a privileged realm of human expression, but something that needs to be fought with. This is why poetry is not an unproblematic matter of letting language ‘itself speak’: on the contrary, it is the site of a tortuous struggle between subject and language. This very struggle occurs in the poetry of Robert Lax, which employs reductive strategies to “clean” its tools of expression in order to see more clearly the essential intersections of life and art. Being a strategy of inter-textuality and inter-visuality, visual poetry presents a kampfplatz, a battle field, where the artist fights with utilitarian (natural) language by replying through new channels of communication (and emancipation). In this respect, the French artist Guy de Cointet’s performances ‘attack’ value systems established by language, combine different registers and explore sign systems, sometimes as linguistic ready-mades or as abstract symbols, but always detached from neutrality, encouraging the reader to engage in the creative process of deciphering. In her experiments with visual poetry, Bogdanka Poznanović takes a stand against the art work as a totality ready for cultural consumption. By ‘naming’ Yugoslav rivers and lighting signal fires, she intervenes in ‘the order of things’, suggesting a potential for new communication channels and active engagement in creating the world through them. I think it is not too bold to say that, in some way, the essence of all these works lies in the Greek word poiesis (to make), a verb from which today’s term poetry is derived. This by no menas implies advocating the discourse of “leaving the sublime art work to reveal the Truth”, on the contrary – it implies the will to abandon our own passive position of the medium through which language reveals the world. The exhibition Word Out of Joint presents works which break through the armour of linguistic meaning, ‘torture’ the language and demand our freedom to actively build the world.

only in german

Word Out Of Joint
Kurator: Vladimir Vidmar

Künstler: Mangelos, Guy de Cointet, Stanislaw Drozdz, Robert Lax, Vlado Martek, Bogdanka Poznanovic, Adam Vackar