The Space of Words
Heterogeneous relationships between words and space
Christophe Gallois, April 20, 2009
The Space of Words/De Boer_Laurien 1996-2007_Jan Mot, Brussels
The Space of Words/De Boer_Laurien 1996-2007_Jan Mot, Brussels
Raymond Hains_Born 1926 in Saint Brieuc. † 2005 (Paris).

Raymond Hains, the “king of the metaphysical pun” (as Iris Clert called him) whose thinking did not cease to “evolve and proliferate through gigantic analogous meanders”, developped multiple strategies throughout his career to deconstruct language, apparently subtracting its meaning in order to enrich it with new meanings. At the end of the 1940s, Hains experimented for the first time with an optical distortion process by photographing luminous shapes and objects through plates of fluted glass. These experiments were titled “hynagognic photographs” from a medical term that defines states of pre-sleep and half sleep and particularly the hallucinations they generate. These experiments rapidly led to the invention of a machine called the hypnagogoscope. In 1953, Hains and the artist Jacques de la Villeglé proposed the “exploding” of Camille Bryen’s poem Hépérile, thus making it Hépérile éclaté. Bryen welcomed the gesture of the two artists with the words, “Long live the draft of the unreadable, the unintelligible, the open! Today, thanks to Raymond Hains and Jacques de la Villeglé, the two Christopher Colombuses of ‘ultra-literature’, here is the first joyfully unreadable book…  the first poem to unread.” The series of six Hépériles éclatés (1953) photographs presented here are enlargements subsequently produced by the artist of pages from the book.

The “lacerated posters” (the appropriation of found posters in public space) are another method used by Hains to deconstruct meaning. The superimposition of different layers of posters creates a multitude of new associations and meanings. Several of these works include the original support: Palissade (1976) was thus taken from the fence surrounding the building site of the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1976. This process amused Hains all the more as he could ironically increase the deconstruction of meaning with the play on words “lapalissades”. It was the same curiosity for signs from daily life playing on the limits of meaning that led Hains to photograph the graffiti on a metal shutter of a shop for Tags Boulevard Raspail (1994) while he was preparing his exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Paris.

The Space of Words/Froment_De L’île à hélice à Ellis Island.
The Space of Words/Froment_De L’île à hélice à Ellis Island.
Harald Klingelhöller_Born 1954 in Mettmann, lives in Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe.

Harald Klingelhöller uses letters, words and phrases as sculptural elements, employing a range of materials from paper to steel via cardboard and plaster. The titles of his works and the words he uses in his sculptures come from various contexts: press articles, verses from poems, vocabulary borrowed from medicine, and extracts from legal texts. Klingelhöller defines himself as “a flâneur in the language”, and the words with which he works are chosen for their “capacity to transfer the viewer into a different space”. His sculptures can be seen as the transposition in space of different characteristics of language, including the use of metaphor, intonation and pronunciation. An example of this process might be his use of repetition: “Repetition is necessary, as well as variation. There are no original words, so why would you focus on the concept of originality?”

The two works in the Mudam Collection presented in the exhibition concern the deconstruction of language. The elements that make up 38 Teile in Form von 19 Zeichen für Tisch und 25 Buchstaben der Worte „Einmal im Leben” (1981) (38 pieces in the form of 19 table signs and 25 letters from the words ‘once in life’) recall the shapes of characters from the alphabet and can be rearranged for each presentation of the work. The spatialisation of letters proposed in Storm of Violence, Repeated (1995) (Storm of violence, repeated) accompanies the exploding of meaning. Playing on overlapping of letters to the limit of unreadability, the work paradoxically invites a detailed reading of space, offering a multitude of meanings according to the point of view.

Häuser zwischen Häusern zwischen vergessenen Häusern, Schrankversion (Houses between houses between forgotten houses, cabinet version), Das Meer bei Ebbe geträumt, zweifach, Schrankversion (The sea dreamt of at low tide, twice, cabinet version) and Fenster durch Fenster gesehen, Schrankversion (Windows views through windows, cabinet version) (2007) are part of a series of works titled Schrankversionen. These pieces take the form of wall sculptures in plaster or aluminium with half-open drawers, their size and disposition evoking the number and length of words that make up the title of each piece. The drawers function as intermediary space between the sculpture and the exhibition space through the language: “With the series of Schrankversionen, of course, you don’t see the letters anymore, but you see the frame provided by the words which informs the frontal proportion of the drawers. So it is a shift from the detail to the outline. It’s one step away from the specific letter but not away from language.”

The Space of Words/De Boer_Laurien 2007_Jan Mot, Brussels.
The Space of Words/De Boer_Laurien 2007_Jan Mot, Brussels.
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