Linguistic Pavilion presented by Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum features thirteen artists/artist collectives and covers a wide array of media including painting, photography, video and installation. The exhibition intends to probe into linguistics-oriented practice by contemporary Chinese artists, and to cast light on the potential relation between art and language. Linguistic Pavilion will open on January 9 and run through March 13.
Since the “linguistic turn” emerged in the realms of philosophy and theoretical study in the 20th century, language issues have gradually become an integral part of the fundamental awareness of almost all disciplines. In the art field, discussions around the interplay between art and language as well as the relevant artistic practice have turned out to be a prominent dimension of contemporary art. Moreover, it is also the linguistic awareness that has further ignited our passion for images and led to more attention on art from the field of contemporary theories.
In this exhibition, the “linguistic practice” by artists could be divided into three interrelated groups. The first treats the language system itself as a working interface. In other words, artists tend to touch upon and criticize issues such as language and ideology, sign and concept, language and image, language and object, language and technology, as well as the relations among different language systems through a linguistic approach. The second starts from specific pragmatic phenomena, probing into and using language as some sort of “readymade” laden with historical, social, cultural and political implications. The third endeavors to write within the “context” of images, which makes it possible for language to be integrated in the formal structure and content of the work so as to experiment with the poetry in which text is juxtaposed in tandem with images.
From the exhibits, people could see that language is activated and inspired from various angles ranging from words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs to font, pronunciation, typeface and ideograph, and even to cross-language or cross-symbol systems. Under the backdrop of various daily functions, the role of language is highlighted in the form of a presence that could be genuinely perceived. To the artists, language represents a convergence point where different fields of research and working practices meet. In this regard, the works that derive from and center on language could be seen as “pavilions” set up at the various convergence points and from which we could see through everything.