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From the DS Archives: TEXT/URAL

Language is a thing that can easily be something we all take for granted. Today from the DS Archives we take a look back at the exhibit TEXT/URAL from OKOK Gallery. LACMA is currently exhibiting A is for Zebra, a group show “about alphabets making sense and non-sense.”

The following article was originally published by Rebekah Drysdale on August 3, 2009:

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OKOK Gallery’s current exhibition, TEXT/URAL, presents the work of seven national and international artists whose text-based works illustrate the expressive potential of language. The infinite mutability of letters, words, and their meanings allow these artists to explore, both formally and conceptually, the role of language in art. The exhibition features works by Michael Waugh, Kay Rosen, Kim Rugg, Will Yackulic, Ewoud Van Rijn, Annie Bradley, and Grant Barnhart.

Michael Waugh’s labor intensive drawings are executed in ink lines of tiny handwritten script. Waugh selects his text from dozens of Presidential inaugural addresses, commission reports, and speeches to Congress. Thousands of words are written out by the artist, and the text becomes large images, as seen above in one of two works on display in TEXT/URAL. The images created from the sprawling text are often loaded with religious and political allegory.

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Kay Rosen has been working with language since 1969. Her wall painting, HALFULL, will be on display at OKOK Gallery. She articulates the meaning of this work in her essay, The Center is A Concept, where she states “referencing the proverbial glass, HALFULL offers a verbal shortcut for viewing the world in two ways, positively or negatively, through a simple linguistic choice involving the letter F”. Rosen uses the predictable palette of 1 Shot brand of sign-painters lettering enamel, an arbitrary system with an infinite combination, similar to the alphabet.

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Kim Rugg renders our print and media culture unintelligible by meticulously dissecting pages of newspaper with an X-ACTO knife. She cuts out every letter and alphabetizes them on the page, all while preserving the dignity in presentation and formality of the newspaper format. She cuts the pictures into small equal sized pieces,and arranges them by color into what resembles television static. Three works will be included in this exhibition utilizing the front pages of the New York, Seattle, and L.A. Times. Rugg was recently reviewed by the L.A. Times and described as “a vandal of the highest order, a tamperer, an interventionist.”

Will Yackulic’s works on paper combine text with obsessively rendered micro-landscapes that recall rudimentary digital imagery. His work was featured in 2007 on DailyServing. Ewoud van Rijn’s epic drawing, Reality, will be included in the show as well. The image, whose gushing lettering suggests both water and sperm, contains a bold statement “reality has no mistress it has a master me.” New Zealand-based artist Annie Bradley is presenting her audio video animation, Sodding G. Monolith, in the project room. This work is inspired by the names spammers use to circumvent e-mail filters and comments on the incessant flow of information. Grant Barnhart, another previous DS feature (and was interviewed by DS in 2007), is presenting work that combines text with adolescent ephemera, such as Playboys adorned with forged Babe Ruth signatures. He is also displaying the sleeping bag in which he received his first kiss, creating an awkward homage to innocence lost.

TEXT/URAL will be on display at OKOK Gallery in Seattle until September 7, 2008.

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