Languages enable us to express, name, categorise and interpret our experiences – as well as the ideas we have that go beyond reality – facilitating communication about them. Whether sign language or programming language, visual imagery or body language, rituals or the canon of artistic forms of expression – language is a sign system that has evolved from a consensus and that simultaneously construes consensus; a sign system that is based primarily on an act of reduction and of exclusion. Aspects of our quintessential sensory experience of reality are always lost in its transformation into language. In the worst case, then, our perception of reality is reduced; in the best case, however, our different languages enable us to develop ideas and views that refer back to reality beyond their boundaries. It is a fine line requiring constant re-negotiation.
Now, reality itself is by no means interested in being reduced, arranged or regimented by language. Time and again, it emerges from behind language, creating phenomena and perceptions that we are unable to express in words. Art, in particular, offers us the possibility to reflect on how we access reality through language, and to break down barriers – enabling us to visualise and experience the reality that lies hidden behind language.
The exhibition Wild Wild Grammar invites us to sense those boundaries. It conveys a pleasant inkling of the chaos and potential that is concealed and repressed by our speech. The exhibition explores how our different language systems have become enriched with new words, signs and grammars in a bid to expand our understanding of the world – and when, perhaps, it may simply be better to remain silent.
The exhibition was curated by Hermann Noering and Franz Reimer.