Of & About is an exploration of artworks that place a central emphasis on the use of text. Text can be used in different ways by artists. It can serve as a narrative subject, as conceptual tool, and as the very medium that creates the artwork. In some cases artists only allude to text, or language or communication. Some artists use text in a sculptural way. Others use it to communicate emotions or political sentiments. At the heart of all of these approaches is the sense that art is often more than just the materials it is made of. It exists, un-physically, within our minds as well.
Ruscha’s progression, from the kind of poppy words that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Warhol print, to more cryptic text, was in keeping with the times. As (Richard D. Marshall) points out, the artist’s more ambiguous pieces bear similarities to the work of conceptual artists like Bruce Nauman and John Baldessari, Jenny Holzer, who came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. However, Marshall is careful to distinguish between the “strong physiological and emotional states relating to life and death,” evoked by Holzer, Nauman and co., and Ruscha’s phrases, which, in the author’s view, “are not concerned with opinionated content. Ruscha’s combinations have a more indefinite and illogical quality.”
Source: Phaidon Publishers
“And that’s the whole point of what art is. Art is an objectification of something you are trying to communicate with a culture. It’s that tiny little thing that you do not want to fuck up somebody’s day on their way to work. But the purpose of doing your work is to fuck up their whole life.”
“I am really interested in the different ways that language functions...When language begins to break down a little bit, it becomes exciting and communicates in nearly the simplest way that it can function: you are forced to be aware of the sounds and the poetic parts of words."
These messages come from her first major text work, Truisms, which explores the idea of gathering and presenting information as art. (Jenny Holzer) created nearly 300 of these statements, based on common sayings and clichés, and expressing many different points of view…The tone of her next work, the Inflammatory Essays, is more challenging and aggressive. These took the form of 100-word paragraphs printed on different coloured papers. Holzer wrote these texts herself, but we shouldn't see them as directly reflecting her own opinions. Her writing often considers issues from multiple viewpoints but always tackles issues important to many people.
Source: Tate Modern
"If you deal only with what is known, you’ll have redundancy; on the other hand, if you deal only with the unknown, you cannot communicate at all. There is always some combination of the two, and it is how they touch each other that makes communication interesting.”