March 1, 2017 - Kunsthalle Wien - More Than Just Words [On the Poetic]
March 1, 2017

Kunsthalle Wien

João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Glossolalia (“Good Morning”), 2014. Produced by Fondazione HangarBicocca, Milan. Courtesy the artists.

More Than Just Words [On the Poetic]
March 8–May 7, 2017

Opening: March 7, 7pm

Kunsthalle Wien
Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1
1070 Vienna
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / #Poetics

More Than Just Words [On the Poetic] is not an exhibition on poetry, quite the contrary. More Than Just Words… ponders on the poetic, that is: on "the poetic function of language."

"What makes a verbal message a work of art?" asked linguist Roman Jakobson. Distinguishing six functions of language deemed necessary for communication to occur, he proclaimed the "poetic" as one of the most important functions due to its ability to transform "the formal appearance of language into a form of special information." 

Poetic language thrives on connotations and polyvalent levels of meaning. The addition of sound and rhythm enhances the way in which things are represented, privileging form over content. When words are consciously perceived by their aesthetic and sonic dimension—when they are not merely understood as a practical component of communication—then it’s safe to say the poetic function of language is somehow at work.

The exhibition draws on Jakobson’s distinctive ideas on the poetic function of language as a departure point for considering forms of expression situated beyond semantic clarity. It looks at language as a source of morphological uncertainty and endless hermeneutics. Found in films, photographs, sculptures, installations, and performance: this type of language is more than just words after all, and the word more than just a mere string of letters.

Calling attention to a primary interest in language—for instance, how language can be intuitively understood—the collaboratively curated show presents a subjective selection of artistic positions that convey this sense of "more than just words." Whether by exposing the language of gestures, by revealing how language resists algorithmic exploitation and simple translatability, or how performative actions may give rise to shifts in perception, the exhibition promises to present poetry in another light. 

Poetry is linguistic surplus. It is a language that defies the logic of effective meaning-making and the functional exchange of signs. It is a language that escapes the logic of economic abstraction and the rules of pragmatism. It involves combinations of semiotically liberated syllables and words that playfully create, jump over, and mix up meaning.

Artists: John Baldessari, Elisabetta Benassi, Nina Canell, Natalie Czech, Michael Dean, Jason Dodge, João Maria Gusmão / Pedro Paiva, Ketty La Rocca, Bruno Munari, Olaf Nicolai, Fernando Ortega, Jenny Perlin, Gerhard Rühm, Olve Sande, Erica Scourti, Michael Snow, Mladen Stilinović, Artur Żmijewski

Curators: Luca Lo Pinto, Vanessa Joan Müller

Stay connected:
Please check our website for regular updates on our program.
For further information please contact: Katharina Murschetz
T +43 (0)1 52189 1221 / presse [​at​]

Kunsthalle Wien
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