September 17, 2008 - Generali Foundation - UN COUP DE DES
September 17, 2008


UN COUP DE DÉS: Writing Turned Image. An Alphabet of Pensive Language
19 September – 23 November 2008
Opening Reception: 18 September 2008, 7 p.m.

Wiedner Hauptstrasse 15
1040 Vienna, Austria
foundation [​at​]

Works by Robert Barry, Lothar Baumgarten, Marcel Broodthaers, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Rodney Graham, Ulrike Grossarth, Jarosław Kozłowski, David Lamelas, Ewa Partum, Gerhard Rühm, Klaus Scherübel, Dominik Steiger, Ana Torfs, Peter Tscherkassky, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Ian Wallace

The first exhibition held under the Generali Foundation’s new director examines the poetic and subversive potential of language. At the same time, it offers a new perspective on the existing collection by embedding it in a context of works that represent desiderata for this collection.

The movement of the letters, a heightening of the allusive and deconstructive features of language, is central to this exhibition. An idea first developed by Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) in Un coup de dés (A roll of the dice), 1897 has become an integral part of the poetological vocabulary of the 20th century: unmasking language as a convention that serves to discipline the individual and to subject it to a regulated system of capitalist exploitation, or, to put a positive spin on it, to guarantee a commanding view of the world. Language was to undergo a revision and to reconquer the latitude of its imagination by escaping its purposive destination of having to communicate an unambiguous meaning. Mallarmé was not the only one to counter this desire for facile consumption by means of the suggestive force of the letter, the fashion of his typographical arrangement of words on the blank sheet. Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976), a key figure of the post-avant-garde, struck an even more radical path than Mallarmé, at first, in a performative act, turning—not unlike other poets in this exhibition—away from poetry, the pursuit of “starving artists,” and toward the “more lucrative” visual arts. He buried 50 copies of his slow-selling volume of poetry entitled Pense-Bête in plaster and offered the result to the art market as a sculpture.

It is around Stéphane Mallarmé and Lewis Carroll’s “upside-down world” as exemplary predecessors of an anti-representational art, around Marcel Broodthaers, who took Mallarmé’s strategies of linguistic analysis to their extreme, and around artists who are Mallarmé’s, Carroll’s, and Broodthaers’s intellectual kin that the exhibition UN COUP DE DÉS. Writing Turned Image revolves. Their examination of language extends to a field of reference of the constitutively multi-mediatic: language gets its say in books, films, videos, projections, objects, texts, and performances. In the exhibition, the letters break free of the book and their instrumental destination as a pure medium of information; they enter the flow of media as a sort of disturbance of the familiar, reoccupying space in a way that is simultaneously enigmatic and a critique of language. Art reconsiders and undoes habitual rhetorical tropes using techniques of repetition, syntactic displacement, reduction to the point of absence, montage, or an alogical confrontation with the world of things.

This exhibition can be read in multiple ways, as a system of references between avant-garde techniques and analyses that relate to leading figures of modernism, but also as a system of friendships and resonances between artists who have worked and are working over a period of time extending from the 19th century across 1960s and 1970s conceptual art to our own present.

Exhibition Publication
UN COUP DE DÉS. Writing Turned Image. An Alphabet of Pensive Language Sabine Folie (ed.) for Generali Foundation, Vienna.
Texts by Anna Sigrídur Arnar, Jacques Rancière, Gabriele Mackert, Michael Newman, Sabine Folie et al.
Germ./Engl., 250 pages, 150 color and b&w illustrations
Generali Foundation, Wien
Verlag Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne

Curator: Sabine Folie

Generali Foundation
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 15
1040 Vienna, Austria
phone: +43 1 504 98 80-24

Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thu to 8 p.m.

Generali Foundation

Generali Foundation
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York