An exhibition by Mathieu Copeland
A Spoken Word Exhibition is solely composed of worded artworks (artworks only made of words to be spoken), to be read by BALTIC Crew members to visitors who ask to hear the pieces. Acting as a voice when addressed throughout the building, the Crew repeat the artworks written and instructed by the invited artists. Not performing, only using language through the act of reading, the works are available only on demand, initiating an exchange between visitors and BALTIC staff.
The exhibition inhabits the realm of the spoken word, addressing the possibilities of art, memory & exhibition making. The exhibition is constituted of artworks that are to be spoken and exchanged as a verbal gesture from one person to another. A Spoken Word Exhibition is an exhibition of the same nature and material as that of the artworks that constitute it, which are words.
Lawrence Weiner’s definitive statement: “last as long as it last” encapsulates most aspects of the spoken word. The artworks only last for the time it takes to read them, generating ultimately an exhibition that only lasts for the time it takes to listen. Time, to borrow Ian Wilson’s very first discussion from 1968, (where he established that his only artistic production would be his discussions) is the essence of an exhibition of the spoken word. Maurizio Nannucci’s definitive statement also encapsulates a deep understanding of the exhibition, affirming our belief that there is ‘more than meets the eye’. Reflecting on the everyday, the statements by Tomas Vanek; the ‘compilation of rants and nonsequiters that might be found just below the threshold of audibility in a western corporate environment’ by Douglas Coupland; or the modern days haikus by Nick Currie all offer a deep perspective into the possibilities of the words. And as a natural complement, both Mai-Thu Perret and Karl Holmqvist – who based their works on pre-existing novels, envisage how the time of the exhibition gives the rhythm for these pieces to evolve.
BALTIC explores the history and works of Fluxus through the renowned Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, Detroit. This unprecedented exhibition of over three-hundred and fifty works from 1961 – 1978 is the largest display of Fluxus ever mounted in Britain.