Focusing on the work of seven artists from various generations – Meris Angioletti, Pedro Barateiro, Pavel Buchler, Bethan Huws, Anna Franceschini, Michael Mueller and Vincent Vulsma – the exhibition A Text is a Thing presents a series of art works that analyse the relationship between the written word and visual arts. With increasing frequency and increasing intensity, a large number of contemporary artists seem to be using narrative techniques in developing their own work. The exhibition explores the approaches adopted by various artists who often use direct or indirect references to texts – be they narrative, poetic or theoretical – to generate an object, an image or a space. In many of the works on show the grammatical, lexical or narrative structures act not merely as a source of inspiration but are also physically represented: the text becomes a “thing” and the words are perceived as physical presences, even to the point of fragmenting.
A Text is a Thing aims to highlight how the process that leads from a verbal or literary starting point to the realisation of a work of visual art (be it sculpture, installation, video or painting) involves a series of gaps or “syncopations” which render the works on show more than a direct transposition of the source text that inspires them but, rather, a transformation and contraction of information into a single visual unit.
The exhibition presents work produced between 1973 and 2011 along with pieces realised specifically for the occasion.

With a serious reflection on Duchamp’s ready-mades as her starting point, Bethan Huws (who was born in 1961 and lives and works in Berlin) takes to extremes both the banal as a dimension of art and language as a basis for the image. Moving freely between the techniques of watercolour, drawing, wall-text, installation and sculpture, the Welsh artist creates unexpected connections between the world of art and our everyday lives.

Pavel Büchler (born in 1952, he lives and works in Manchester) is an artist, lecturer and writer. Describing his work as “making nothing happen”, he focuses on art as a catalyst and its capacity to draw attention to what seems obvious, then revealing its unexpectedness.

The Portuguese artist Pedro Barateiro (born in 1979, he lives and works in Lisbon) uses a diverse range of expressive forms including photography, collage, installations, sculpture and video. In each case he works primarily with existing images – photos from old magazines, documents, literary texts and found objects – using them to create a reflection on how history is at work in the present, generating spaces and architectures, both physically and symbolically.

Anna Franceschini (born in 1979, she lives and works in Amsterdam) uses the moving image and our relationship with the language of film to observe the places and contexts in which she finds herself working. Starting with objects and spaces, in a process that the artist herself defines as the “dynamising” of these elements, she works backwards towards a redefinition of their essence.

Proposing what seem more like methods of investigation than “art works”, the work of Meris Angioletti(born in 1977, she lives and works in Paris) puts the viewer in the role of detective. Her objects, video- and sound- installations are sown-through with clues, micro-stories and literary and philosophical references which she recomposes in what appears to be an entirely subjective philology.

Vincent Vulsma (born in 1982, he lives and works in Amsterdam and Berlin) assembles objects and models from ethnographic collections or modernist industrial design, moving deliberately between what could be classified as luxury objects, art and souvenirs. His work often investigates the effects that the cultural differences between diverse historical and social contexts have on the production and interpretation of objects, analysing the role of the artist and other “specialists” in the process that produces the “value” of these objects.

Right from the beginning of his career, Michael Müller (born in 1970, he lives and works in Berlin) has built up a body of work exploring the psychological, cultural, philosophical and religious phenomena of both East and West, and combining and comparing these elements of human existence with scientific systems of classification and categorisation. His most recent works reveal an interest in the structures and systems around which the construction of language and non-verbal forms of expression develop and rotate.