das wort steht im raum – sculptural poetry

Cabinet exhibition in the Centre for Artists‘ publications

27.05.2021 - 04.07.2021
Franz Mon: Text mit 60 O, 1985. Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen, Foto: Bettina Brach. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Augusto de Campos: Cubogramas, 1975, Archive for Small Press & Communication/Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen. Foto: Bettina Brach
Timm Ulrichs: Concrete Poetry, 1972/1977, Archiv Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen. Foto: Bettina Brach © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Among the fruitful relationships between art and literature, the dialogue between poetry and sculpture plays a special role in contemporary art. Nevertheless, it has received very little attention so far. The exhibition at the Centre for Artists’ Publications now focuses on a tradition of experimental poetry and visual art since the 1960s in which texts appear as three-dimensional works of art – as objects inscribed with texts or letters become sculptural forms.

The phenomenon of sculptural poetry emerged at a time of radical questioning of artistic production processes, traditional concepts of works and established modes of reception, which can be observed in all disciplines. In literature, there were comparably radical approaches with visual, concrete and acoustic poetry, action poetry, early digital poetry, text films as well as the new radio play and script-based installations.

Sculpture and literature intertwine across disciplines and as a matter of course in the work of the artists presented, especially in the 1960s and 70s. Many of the protagonists are as well known for their visual artworks as for their conceptual literary works, which leave literary conventions and established genres behind. The representatives of visual and concrete poetry of this time were engaged in an international exchange. New approaches to text and literature developed in Europe as well as in the Eastern European avant-gardes and in South America.

With an international selection of works from its own holdings and some on loan, the exhibition provides an overview of the diverse manifestations of sculptural poetry. The spectrum ranges from the Poemobiles by Augusto de Campos and Julio Plaza, a series of folding cards between whose covers texts are erected and folded again when opened, like a pop-up book, to John Cage’s legendary Not wanting to say anything about Marcel, in which printed plastic panes are placed one behind the other like the transparent pages of a book. Photographs by Attila Csernik show how one’s own body also becomes a medium for sculptural text. In collaboration with the estate of Heinz Gappmayr, reconstructions of five small paper sculptures from 1962 were made.

Works by Alain Arias-Misson, Josef Bauer, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, John Cage, Augusto de Campos, Lucio del Pezzo, Carlfriedrich Claus, Peter Downsbrough, John Furnival, Heinz Gappmayr, Jochen Gerz, Dietrich Helms, Miroslay Klivar, Milan Knížák, Ferdinand Kriwet, Franz Mon, Geza Perneczky, Julio Plaza, Gerhard Rühm, Takahashi Shohashiro, Gabor Toth, Karel Trinkewitz and Timm Ulrichs

Curated by Bettina Brach, Centre for Artists’ Publications, and Christoph Benjamin Schulz, Wuppertal.
In collaboration with the international festival poetry on the road