Signs, Symbols, Stories brings together a diverse group of works that explore the interrelationship between word and image across a wide variety of media – painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, photography, and video. In some works, the graphic quality of letters, words, and blocks of text is highlighted – the way they interact with other motifs to construct a visual landscape. In other cases, written language is used as one element of a montage of symbolic forms to construct a narrative, much as in silent film. Many of the artists make use of texts to comment directly on specific issues of personal identity, cultural conventions, and political or religious concerns – while at the same time using these words to complicate, subvert, or recontextualize the visual imagery in their artworks. They investigate the interconnectedness between language and visual imagery in the creation of meaning, and the ways that multiple layers of interpretation can coexist in a single artwork. In some cases, while actual words do not appear in the artwork, the artist creates his own iconic form that embodies a concept or specific thing, often indicated by the title of the work. The exhibition itself is constructed like a patchwork quilt, incorporating disparate elements, forms, and materials, each work playing off the next, its different textures and approaches sometimes clashing but often bringing out new shadings of meaning in its neighbor.
The artists featured are: Arahmaiani, Tiffany Chung, FX Harsono, Tracey Moffatt, Manuel Ocampo, Jimmy Ong, Sopheap Pich, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Pinaree Sanpitak, Jakkai Siributr, Agus Suwage, Ronald Ventura, and Yee I-Lann.
As part of the exhibition, we will be screening a recent video by Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, The Treachery of the Moon. Commissioned for the 2012 dOCUMENTA (13), it was also included in the exhibition No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013) and the Asia Society, Hong Kong (2014).