Useful Gestures/Useless Gestures brings together the work of four artists
working with the conventions of language and semiotics to reinforce the
ambiguity of those systems. The artists use organizational systems such
as grammar and photographic documentation to point indirectly to their subjects.
By subverting clear interpretations, they suggest a critique of our culture’s
emphasis on simple, un-nuanced communication — a frustration of meaning
binds these artists together.
Daniel Lefcourt’s arrangement of blocks of black lines mimics the
graphic convention of page layout design, and stands in as an introductory
text for the exhibition. An ambiguous decoy, Lefcourt’s wall installations
underline the possibility of depicting language without using language.
The visible information acts as an evasive declaration, or non-statement,
which in itself is an indictment of language and our reliance on it. With
Erica Baum’s photographs, language is laid bare, but despite appearances,
her photographs of words form incomplete pictures of their subjects. An
obscured subject is always hinted at with evocative combinations of words,
which become concrete poems and playful allegories for hidden referents.
Tom Holmes borrows, splices and propagates his images so that the his work
evades even so much as a question of what his referent might be. Frenzied
and multivalent compositions combine text and image, flattening multiple
fields into works that ask the viewer to consider urban advertising in the
same breath as high abstraction. In Marcelline Delbecq’s video, Close,
two stories unfold one visual one verbal. The viewer is left to visualize
unseen sites, to imagine the meaning of unexplained anecdotes. As the descriptions
flow seductively in the form of the voice-over, the lush landscape extending
before our eyes does not match the commentary. Following the frenetic paths
of this garden as a course of desire, word and image disconnect again: the
subject is evaded once more. Delbecq’s elusive maison is described,
but never appears on camera.
Useful Gestures / Useless Gestures is an abbreviated version of
the exhibition Subject Index,
which opens August 23rd 2008 at the Malmö Konstmuseum in Sweden, and
continues through October 11, 2008.
The full catalogue for Subject Index will be available at DISPATCH.