In the sphere of script, the phenomenon of illegibility forms part of our everyday life. Most of us can remember jotting a note that nobody, including ourselves, could later decode; most of us have experienced the impossibility of deciphering someone else’s scribbles, or an encounter with a sign system that we could not understand. What do we feel when faced with such situations: irritation, powerlessness, helplessness? And what if this peculiar state when, desired so much, the sense escapes us blatantly and irretrievably, opens a different kind of perception in which script becomes a material phenomenon in itself, an intriguing ornament, or a code that does not carry any information?
The exhibition aims to present an array of varied forms in which such illegibility functions. Therefore, selected works feature different kinds of notations that refer to script, alphabet and punctuation marks, but in fact they reveal the loss and blurring of the word, instead of the expected legibility.
Paradoxically enough, exaggerated legibility – represented for instance by magnified punctuation marks – also leads to illegibility (Sophia Pompéry, Ketty La Rocca). Artists may also create their own alphabets (Antoni Starczewski) or non-alphabets (Marcin Berdyszak). Yet another type of illegibility occurs when the artist uses paper that is already covered with writing or print, thus piling up layers of notes, tearing apart or blurring the script (Marian Warzecha, Jan Berdyszak).
The works by these artist feature script that is visible but illegible. It becomes a decorative and tangled line that irritates the viewers with its illegibility, or signs that resembles letters of unknown enigmatic alphabets. Evoking the shapes of letters and words, these scripts imply in a perverse way that they carry a certain sense, while they simultaneously abstain from such function.
They do not convey the sense in a literal way, but they fade into scribbles, form piled-up layers, multiply in mirror reflections, while carrying new non-literal senses.
As Jacques Derrida would say, illegibility is a site where error is generated, an error that may become the sign of the highest intensity of initiation and of the occurrence of new meanings.
For illegible script does not belong to any site or order: its essence is instability that sparks reflection concerning the phenomena that escape clear-cut definitions; a game with our cultural habits and the matrices of writing and letters stored in our memory. Beyond doubt, illegible script has the power to shakes us out of the comfort of certainty and open us up to the unexpected.
ILLEGIBILITY: THE CONTEXTS OF SCRIPT
23rd of February – 17th of May 2016
Curated by: dr hab. Marta Smolińska, Professor at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań
Artists: Jan Berdyszak, Marcin Berdyszak, Irma Blank, Hanne Darboven, Katarzyna Giełżyńska, Krzysztof Gliszczyński, Şakir Gökçebağ, Małgorzata Dawidek, Jakub Jasiukiewicz, Sasaguchi Kazz, Leszek Knaflewski, Brigitte Kowanz, Andrzej Leśnik, Navid Nuur, Franciszek Orłowski, Michał Martychowiec, Ireneusz Pierzgalski, Sophia Pompéry, Ketty La Rocca, Antoni Starczewski, Tamás St. Auby, Andrzej Szewczyk, Jan Tarasin, Endre Tót, Marian Warzecha, Marek Wasilewski
Photo: Maciej Zakrzewski