Bethan Huws: Culture, Language & Thought

Bethan Huws: Culture, Language & Thought


Bethan Huws, Mussels on a Beach, 2008. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Charles Duprat.

April 10, 2016
Bethan Huws
Culture, Language & Thought
April 8–August 22, 2016
Dedication of site-specific work: August 21, 3pm, Hans Rudolf Reust talks with Bethan Huws (in English)
Kolumbastraße 4
50667 Cologne
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 12–5pm

T +49 221 9331930
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A visual metaphor for the interrelationship between individual narratives and texts has been put forward in the theory of literature. All texts take part in a dialogue with each other, according to this premise. Each text incorporates other texts, altering their meaning in the process, so that each one can be regarded as a “tissue of quotations” (Roland Barthes). The image of a fabric, of intertextuality, is also an apt description of Bethan Huws’ artistic practice. Cross-referencing, making allusions, appropriation, citation and association are central to her creative process. By engaging with art history—for over ten years she has been studying works by Marcel Duchamp—and by reading such writers as Beckett, Joyce, Apollinaire and Mallarmé, she strives to define and assess what gives her cause for thought. However, for her, it is never a matter of internal art debate, but of sensual stimuli and intellectual impulses. These might be of a biographical nature, something remembered or experienced perhaps. In a continuous process of re-affirmation, she explores the fragility of what appears to us to be obvious, seeking the foundation and the regularities that hold reality together.

Her work is grounded in language in more than a structural sense. She also uses language as an instrument to plumb the depths, as a tool to explore places, objects or mental concepts or—in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp—as a vehicle to shift meanings. She exploits the productive potential of language, working along its ruptures and poetic openings, using word play, consonance, misunderstanding and ambivalence to free objects from the corset of conventionality and prime them with new associations. The artefacts executed with the greatest precision—objects, films, textual pieces—function in this process as catalysts: the ultimate artistic activity is that of reflection, to be undertaken by the viewer in an associative manner and which may lead to further contemplation.

In the exhibition at Kolumba she combines her own work with pieces selected from the current exhibition and the collection. The contemporary is connected to the historical and the historical is brought up to date. Bethan Huws creates a cohesive system of correspondences, in which her own work and inclusions from elsewhere are brought together without any hierarchical preconceptions. That which already exists is brought into question in a subtle manner, allowing that which has become taken for granted over time but not yet fully exploited or even completely understood to be seen anew. Bethan Huws has created a site-specific piece especially for the inner courtyard of Kolumba, which will be inaugurated on Sunday, August 21 and will remain as a permanent installation.

Bethan Huws was born in Bangor, Wales in 1961. She lives and works in Berlin.

Artist’s booklet
At the closing event of the exhibition, an artist’s booklet will be published with an essay by Barbara von Flüe (D/E).

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April 10, 2016

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