San Francisco

“Image/Word: The Art of Reading”

New Langton Arts

The theme of this exhibition—the cohabiting of verbal and visual materials in ostensibly purely visual artworks—was formalist and timely. In his essay for the catalogue, Barrett Watten says, “The works . . . argue to be read rather than interpreted, and the act of reading by the viewer is intended, explicitly by many of the artists, as part of the work:’ He also says that ”the work is addressed directly to the way it is understood. This act of understanding will involve, inevitably, a politics and a practice on the part of the viewer.”

The common stance of the nine “Image/Word” artists is to be formally and/or strategically shrewd, thematically complex, and declarative as to their intentions, which are mostly honorable in terms of what Watten calls “social space”: they want to unveil the uncertainties and deviousness of public language so that its real and often multiple meanings can be

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