press release

“Words have temperatures to me. When they reach a certain point and become hot words, then they appeal to me… Sometimes I have a dream that if a word gets too hot and too appealing, it will boil apart, and I won’t be able to read or think of it. Usually, I catch them before they get too hot.” The point of evanescence of words that Edward Ruscha describes in this quote might illustrate how some contemporary artists relate to language: the development of slippages between language and image, between language and space, based, not on equivalence, but on dynamics of heterogeneity, often resulting in their mutual erasure. The exhibition The Space of Words explores this zone of heterogeneity between language and space and is articulated around two directions: the spatialisation of language and the evanescence of meaning.

One of the sources of inspiration for this project is a lecture given by French philosopher Jacques Rancière, whose title we borrow for this exhibition. Rancière’s L’Espace des mots is based on Marcel Broodthaers’s appropriation of the Mallarmé book Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard – substituting the words, which were deliberately arranged across the page, with black bands – in order to approach the exchange surface of the page as a “space of confrontation”, based on a “practice of word and image that emphasises the distance between them”. Focusing on the work of eleven artists from different generations, the exhibition The Space of Words explores a series of gestures activating different kinds of gaps between language and space, including the erasure, the alteration, the lose of memory, the explosion of meaning and the transposition from the space of the page to the space of the exhibition. A common feature of these gestures is the central role played by the notion of reading and by the processes of interpretation, appropriation and montage that it involves. The disappearance of meaning, the silences and blanks that characterise some of the works in the exhibition function thus, to quote Ruscha talking about a number of his paintings that feature erased words, as “spaces for thought”.


Künstler: Manon de Boer, Marcel Broodthaers, Aurelien Froment, Ryan Gander, Raymond Hains, Harald Klingelhöller, Dominique Petitgand, Ed Ruscha, Frances Stark, Josef Strau, Tris Vonna-Michell.

Kurator: Christophe Gallois