White Columns

Gallery Fia Backström ‘That social space between speaking and meaning’

Dear XYZ,

A preemptive war of evacuated words and unlawful combatants, it's more than we can take. Luring language reigns rampant and generic, while iconoclastic moves on the image abound. I can't smoke you out, because smoking indoors is not permitted. In with the good air out with the bad. This carpet of slipping senses, handy words to twist meanings for cunning and calculated usage - a visceral occupation of territory set up for US to inhabit. So Words, Don't Fail Me Now!

These are the bankrupt words of the undermined rhetoric no longer yours:

a for agency
f for freedom
r for resistance

exceptions made for CO-rporations or your CO-operative spirit turning them into secret mantras for soulful enlightenment or entertainment - a for Parisian model agence or f as in F U Calvin Klein far out signification. r as in rotten rhubarb pie, somehow anti-slogans enters the ads. Language development from think tank to focus group, market research into politics, finding selling words for a movement of merchan-dizing ideas. Resonating words which obscure the issue; ethnic marketing as site specificity, then criticality, a little whipping à la S/M... the right name is everything for enhancing policy sales. Rhetoric matters!

Looking for CO-ntemporary text (caption, tagline, keyword) in this list-headlines culture. A tailored message for you and you and you, that iconic place in your heart. The critical review, our only public chance to interact with the system in a registered way, a bit like voting in a democracy. Circular logic of the art text, for what is independent discourse if we are all part of one literary community... exchange as in affirmative description. Endless lists of names decorating the ubiquitous ads in the Art magazines, apparently you can build mystery as long as you believe in the story. The axis of art: t$xt–cli$nt–obj$ct. What is at stake, if anything at all? It is not an easy task to grasp a frontier. So don't forget sometimes words are more than enough, or not sufficient at all.

The illusory split between the siamese twins image-logo and text-slogan, a CO-dependant duality dancing the dung around. Currently China totals 85 million illiterate people, mark my words! but then again who needs ABC for logo reading or to visualize a tag line. The collapse of letters with visual culture; to read to think to see... decorative conceptualism turned plain CO-mmercial jargon. A CO-mmunist shared paper situation and a marketplace consumer experience, a public forum, a piazza - a poetry club. A testing ground for language and words that work. A place for reading gone awry, that inter-public feeling beyond ideology and inundating data flow. Writing a grey zone of who is what, where in which position; sliding articulation for another formation shift. A CO-authored environment, an evolving letter, a background where language's communal bead of labored meaning is continually altered. A public discussion and a personal address of merging tongues so that Poetry must be made by everyone or not be made at all.

Walking billboards and word peddlers! A ripped chain of signification for a shifted audience interpretation. I am. I war I write, my life, I misunderstand therefore I am, to Mean, to Do, to Use, to Score, chart upon chart, value more value. A worthless rupture, without meaning or speed, an un-sanitary structure where I and I together make mass of confusion and eruption. For you, for now, for ever!

Yours truly,
xo Fia


White Columns is proud to present That social space between speaking and meaning, a newly commissioned installation by the Swedish artist Fia Backström.

The project continues Backström’s ongoing investigations into “corporate address and political rhetoric.” The installation – which acts as a counter-point to radical modernist proposals such as El Lissitzky's “pressa” exhibitions and Herbert Bayer's Road to Victory - is an environment without any "images" that takes the form of a discussion club: a space to be socialized through informal and formal meetings, gatherings and readings. Traces of these conversations, either in the form of audio recordings or written transcripts will subsequently be posted into the space.

The installation includes Backström’s own works and texts (including wall paper designs), and inserted works and texts of other artists and writers (including Julieta Aranda, Julie Ault, Roe Ethridge, Claire Fontaine, Wade Guyton, Matt Keegan, Sister Corita Kent, Jutta Koether, Sean Landers, Olivier Mosset, Bob Nickas, Jack Pierson, Seth Price, and Alexandre Singh amongst others) as well as “found” objects such as the traveling frame for a Jasper Johns painting or the Sculpture’s Center’s “donor panel.”

The project will culminate immediately after the exhibition’s closing in late July with a six hour “Poetry Club” – beginning at midnight – with readings from participating artists and guests.
(Full line-up and schedule to follow.)

Fia Backström's work was recently included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work was included in White Columns’ 2006 exhibition Looking Back – The White Columns Annual.

Fia Backström’s exhibition has been generously supported by:

Konstnärsnämnden. Sveriges bildkonstnärsfond.




Related Press

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - Artforum.com - July 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - New York Magazine And ArtNet - 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - The New York Times - July 18, 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - Time Out New York - July 3-8, 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - Art Review - September 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - Artforum - October 2008

Fia Backström ‘That Social Space Between Speaking And Meaning’ - The New York Times - Winter 2008


Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view