This exhibition brings together film, video and 35mm slide installations by an international group of artists to explore relationships between language and the projected image.
The exhibition takes its title from one of the works in the exhibition, John Smith's 1975 film ASSOCIATIONS. In the film, an authoritative male voice reads a passage from Word Associations and Linguistic Theory by Herbert H. Clark. As the commentary progresses, images torn from magazines flash rapidly onto the screen, each depicting something seemingly unrelated to the voiceover. The effect is to highlight the slippery relationship between word and image.Re-speaking, re-telling, re-combining words and moving images transform reality in various ways. The works in this exhibition encourage visitors to reflect on the subversive potential of language in film and the boundaries between documentary and fiction, and to question the commonplace and familiar.
John Smith simultaneously creates and destroys meaning by setting image and words against each other.Michael Snow stretches the definition of what film is in his 1982 film SO IS THIS. Each shot is simply a single, tightly-framed word in white letters set against a black background that creates "a kind of moving concrete poetry". Like many of Marcel Broodthaers' film works, UNE SECONDE D'ÉTERNITÉ (AFTER AN IDEA OF CHARLES BAUDELAIRE'S), in which the artist traced his signature on 24 frames of film, is both a reflection on the very nature of the cinematographic medium as well as a self-portrait of the artist.
Others examine the disruptive power of language to ask something of the ideological, political and social conditions in which we live. Matthew Buckingham's slide installation, DEFINITION, re-presents the room in which Samuel Johnson wrote the first English dictionary to question how language evolves. In DEFINITION, Buckingham explores the complexities of language and the growing hegemony of English as an 'international language'. SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY (SLA) is an installation by Sharon Hayes in which the artist 'respeaks' the audio tapes the American newspaper heiress Patty Hearst made following her kidnapping in 1974. Hayes culls texts from historical moments and speeches that reveal an ongoing, unresolved set of problems, struggles, questions and debates. Pavel Buchler uses language to challenge our reading of everyday life. The slide installation NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET lifts a phrase of 1968 graffiti from the Sorbonne, and reverses it both semantically and visually. Buchler does not seek to impose new meaning, but rather to expose a wonderful absurdity at the heart of things. It is deliberately open-ended, inviting interpretation and serving as a catalyst for our own imagination.
The works in this exhibition also deploy a wide variety of current and technically 'obsolete' media, including 16mm film, 35mm slide, digital and VHS video. This in itself highlights the temporal and historical contingency of projected images, but also reflects the strong temporal and historical awareness running at different levels through this exhibition.
In association with this exhibition, there will be a special screening of John Smith's films, when the artist will also talk about his work, at the Arts Picture House at 3pm on 9 January 2011.
This exhibition has been devised and selected by Tanya Leighton.
For further information on this exhibition please contact Susie Biller at Kettle's Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ U.K. tel 01223748100, fax 01223324377, firstname.lastname@example.org