The works in the exhibition are linked by the difficulty of 'reading' their works - by reproducing the text as a visual object the viewer is left unsure whether they are meant to be reading, or recovering an image. The Lisson Main Space will present a major new piece from 2004 entitled 'Sighs Trapped by Liars (910-1027)', while Lisson at No. 29 Bell St. will present selected works from the 1970s - these are to include films of the artist collective performing with the Rock Band Red Crayola in the 1970s.
The Lisson Gallery is to combine both spaces for a forthcoming exhibition of work by Art & Language, from 11th May to the 2nd July.
The works in the exhibition are linked by the difficulty of 'reading' their works - by reproducing the text as a visual object the viewer is left unsure whether they are meant to be reading, or recovering an image.
In their first exhibition for three years (11th May â€“ 2nd July) famed Conceptual Art collaborative Art & Language are to present new works at The Lisson Gallery, amongst other things including a daily karaoke show.
In an unprecedented move the Lisson Gallery will devote both spaces on Bell Street to the artist collaborative. Lisson Main Space will exhibit brand new and unseen works, whilst No. 29 Bell St will present two films of live performances of the group singing in the 1970s with the rock band Red Crayola.
The films will be screened throughout the day, and daily from 5-6 pm the space will be turned into the Art & Language CafÃ© with Karaoke and drinks. Other selected works, both new and from the 1970s, will also be displayed in both spaces.
Upon entering Lisson Main Space, the viewer will encounter Sighs Trapped by Liars (910-1027), 2004,
twelve Minimalist style tables. Close inspection reveals that the tables are constructed of canvasses pinned together. Photocopied sheets of texts by Art & Language are printed on the canvasses, which have then been painted over and almost obliterated by brightly coloured paint. The viewer is thus placed at four removes from the text, and only with effort can it be read and understood.
Art & Language deliberately highlight the difficulty of â€˜readingâ€™ their works â€“ by reproducing the text as visual object the viewer is left unsure whether they are meant to be reading or recovering an image.
A similar effort of translation is needed with the filmed projections of the songs Art and Language performed with Red Crayola, now digitalised and projected in actual life size onto the walls. The lyrics contain communist and anti-capitalist tracts, though comprehension is obscured by the music, their vocal performance, and also by the complexity of their performance.
It is this intention that links their works across the decades and which in turn transforms this exhibition into a museum quality retrospective.
Art & Language
The title Art & Language was adopted in 1968, as the name of an artistic practice and group collaboration. Though the numbers within the group fluctuated, and were at one stage around thirty, since 1976 Art & Language has consisted of artists Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, with the art historian Charles Harrison collaborating on theoretical projects.
Art & Language played a fundamental role in the birth of Conceptual Art â€“ a movement that raises the importance of the idea within a work of art above its physical appearance. Conceptual Art was made possible by the collapse of Modernism in the mid 1960s â€“ with which, previous protocols concerning the presentation and subject matter of art dissolved. Thus, at the time Art & Language formed deep changes were taking place throughout the arts â€“ many of those which had previously been separate (for instance music and sculpture) were merging, and political activism was far more vocal and visible within them, characteristics which are inherent in this exhibition.
Often inciting these changes, and always being a part of them, Art & Language have been marked from the outset by a variety of practise and a tendency to provide open and reflexive enquiry â€“ both within themselves and their audience, also visible in this exhibition.
Art & Language have been included in many international exhibitions including the Documenta exhibitions of 1972, 1982 and 1997. In recent years they have also had retrospectives, in the Jeu de Paume, Paris (1993); PS1 in New York (1999), the Musee Dâ€™Art Moderne Villeneuve Dâ€™Ascq in Lille, (2002), and the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Malaga, also in 2004.
Now They are Surrounded, a single work produced by Art & Language especially for Guildhall Art Gallery, will be on exhibition until 4th September. This work consists of 144 images of texts written by Art & Language, that seem to have been damaged and repaired with sticky tape, now old and faded. The texts are distributed throughout the gallery, placed around and between paintings from the Guildhall collection, The texts appear almost as gallery labels â€“ as some kind of â€˜informationâ€™ about the collection. Through this work Art & Language invite the viewer to question the correlation between â€˜readingâ€™ and â€™lookingâ€™ and to reconsider the relationship of the artwork and the institution.
Exhibition opens on May 10th, 6 - 8pm
52-54 & 29 Bell Street
29 Bell Street