Sloganeers is an exhibition of artists exploring the visual engineering of language: text that acts like image, image that encompasses text: containing the trigger for a broad host of engineered associations.
Sloganeering is the engineering of language, the turning of phrase that bypasses meaning for the ultimately emotional response – a sort of depth charge sent to the unconscious base of language. Media slogans manipulate language to create the “insertable” idea – an often illogical phrase that nevertheless clearly communicates desire to the consumer. A slogan allows an idea to be absorbed and incorporated into mental dialogue without the excess baggage of narrative and associated imagery. These artists use the slogan to present otherwise inexpressible concepts, negate the ubiquitous image/phrase dyad of modern advertisement, or affirm a common internal voice. The artistic product can escape the idea of the image as a vehicle for the inexpressible. Jenny Holzer’s more direct aphorisms are an obvious influence, but the constant recuperation of even inherently critical language by the spectacular concerns of advertisement and commerce have created an obvious need for a new direction if “pure” language can continue to be innovative in art. Where Holzer’s truisms have an undeniable authoritative voice, these artists tend to work within a palette that is gentler, less sure. This work moves away from the politics of negation to a place of increased speculation, introspection, psychedelia, and whimsy.
It seems possible to use the pithy turn of phrase that has familiarized itself to us as a means of creating that same mainline to the impulse that commerce has codified this use of language to create. The critical use of the slogan can manipulate the viewer’s recognition of his or her own manipulation. The absolute certainty presented by the image is replaced by the ambiguity of the non- narrative phrase. The word becomes image by virtue of its presentation as art.
The dominant language is economic deduction applied to the language of the body.
-Raul Vaneigem, The Book of Pleasures
November 9 – December 9 2007
curated by Liz Flyntz
curatorial project mentor: Suzan Shown Harjo
The District of Columbia Arts Center, founded in 1989, is a nonprofit arts space dedicated to promoting the freshest, most under-recognized artists in the Washington metropolitan area.
This project was funded by the Warhol Foundation‘s Curatorial Initiative grant, which provided funding for the exhibition and an accompanying publication. Lou Laurita’s paintings courtesy of Guild & Greyshkul Gallery.