A pioneer of artists’ books since the late 60’s, Bochner makes use of the page, in this case the Laporello format, as an alternative space, where the viewer can experience the work in a more intimate way as a seamless continuum.
Language Is Not Transparent (Babble) is an artist book, …. the original statement in English is translated in a multitude of different languages, further proving his point that language does not exist in a vacuum, but rather is subjective, has nuances and is understood through various cultural associations. In both iterations, the translations are ultimately amassed into one panel, creating an illegible tower of Babel. This work takes on new meaning and becomes even more poignant in the current social and political landscape.
Mel Bochner is considered one of the leading figures in the development of the Conceptual art movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Using numbers and language, his primary artistic tools, as both subject matter and medium, he expanded the very definitions of sculpture, painting and art at large. From early on in his career as both artist and critic, Bochner sought to challenge the previously untouched lineage of Abstract Expressionism, which dominated the art scene of the time, as well as Conceptualism, which he himself helped shape, ultimately paving his own way.
Language Is Not Transparent is a seminal work that has taken on numerous forms since it was first shown as a wall drawing in 1970.
(text extract by Giulia Theodoli on the occasion of the exhibition “Mel Bochner: From Pythagoras to Babel”, Noire Gallery, November 2020)
Language Is Not Transparent (Babble)
Leporello print,19×14 cm (closed); 19×224 cm (open)
Premium white Fedrigone paper, gr.250
Enclosed in a black canvas box, 21x16x2,5 cm
Edition of 115 + XXXV
Signed and numbered by the artist
Published by Noireditore, 2020