bregenz,-austria

View of “Ed Ruscha,” 2012. From left: In God We Trust, 1994; You Dirty Rotten Bitch, 1997.

Ed Ruscha

Kunsthaus Bregenz

View of “Ed Ruscha,” 2012. From left: In God We Trust, 1994; You Dirty Rotten Bitch, 1997.

The German word for “letter,” Buchstabe, incorporates the word Buch, “book,” as if to remind us that books are the natural place of residence for letters and signs in general, like an animal’s burrow. Ed Ruscha is an artist who has a unique relationship to letters, both as signs and as inhabitants of books. For the exhibition “Reading Ed Ruscha,” the artist gave a lecture in which he spoke with admiration and melancholy about the bookworm, and noted with sadness its impending extinction with the looming end of the printed book. Ruscha describes the bookworm as an artist—he sees the inhabitation of a world, the building of corridors, tunnels, retreats, and escape routes in a material structure as an artistic practice. In this way, Ruscha himself has long inhabited the “materiality of the signifier”: Symbols become iconic signs; writing becomes image. Cities become texts;

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