Exhibition, Galerie Mansart, 2018 © Esmeralda Kosmotopoulos
Until February 25, the Galerie Mansart presents “/ /”, an exhibition by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos, curated by Azad Asifovich. Inspired by the texts of Ferdinand de Saussure and Jacques Derrida, the exhibition turns words into plain objects – images and sounds – before meaning is assigned to them and questions the influence our post-Internet era has on this dialectic between writing and speaking.
“/ /” is the fruit of a continuous dialogue between artist Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos and curator Azad Asifovich. Their meeting revolves around their shared astonishment towards the French language – its phonetics, and its writing.
The exhibition challenges the way in which we grasp and often transcend the inherited border between spoken and written language. Flags, neon, marble plates, sound and video works come together to invite the viewer to mourn the ambiguity of such an origin. The artist appropriates and diverts language tools such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or the text-to-speech software of her cellphone to highlight the disconnect between so sound of a word and the image formed by the string of letters that compose it; a discrepancy that transcends French language and can be found in most idioms that has both an oral and a written form.
All around the exhibition space, the flags of the body of works “Soundwave” present familiar French words displayed in their phonetic form using in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) making along the way any mute letters, double consonants and other spelling exceptions so common to French written language disappear.
The series of videos on iPhones from the body of works “Texte en français” come as a response to the flags. This time, Kosmatopoulos took the exact same thirteen words and wrote them in latin alphabet in any possible letter combination she could imagine to recreate its spoken sound.
At the back of the space is “Lettre Anonyme”, a large text in neon that takes a romantic sentence drawn from ancient love letters, and exposes it in bright white letters to the public, turning this intimate one-on-one written communication into a direct frontal message to the spectators.
The marble plate “/a/” located near the entrance/exit of the galerie act both as a prologue and an epilogue to this journey thru language.
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