Helen Wilhelm’s opening remarks for Currency of Language
Thank you to everyone for coming out on this beautiful autumn afternoon. It is a pleasure to welcome you today - I want to especially welcome Analia Saban. We are so glad you are here with us today. Also, a very special welcome to Oregon State alumni, Gretchen and Dick Evans and to our past President Ed Ray -a heartfelt thank you for your friendship to the Little Gallery.
I have always loved the combination of images and the associative power of language within a work of art. That is what we have here today. The exhibition brings together two amazing artists, Analia Saban with two series and Barbara Kruger with one series. Let’s start with Barbara Kruger.
Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger (American, born January 26, 1945) is best known for her layered photographs, featuring provocative statements on issues surrounding commercial culture, feminism, and identity politics. Kruger was born in Newark, NJ, and studied art at Syracuse University, the School of Visual Arts, and Parson’s School of Design, under Diane Arbus. She spent several years working as a graphic designer and artistic director for publications, such as Mademoiselle, House and Garden, and Aperture.
At the same time she gained critical recognition for her photographic and screen-printed works, in which she layered found images from commercial sources and overlaid them with short, challenging phrases, such as “You are a captive audience,” and “I shop therefore I am”. Kruger’s work powerfully examines individual participation within consumer and media culture, and provides a forceful feminist critique. She has exhibited her work at the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center for Photography in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the National Center for Contemporary Art in Grenoble, France, and at the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland, among other institutions. Her work has also been reproduced on billboards, t-shirts, and other public venues. Kruger currently lives and works in Los Angeles and New York.
Shown in this exhibition, is Untitled (We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard), a series composed of nine panels that conveys a message of linguistic and social resistance. The nine images are arranged in a specific grid and form the phrase ‘We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard’.
Although suggesting the hand-based gestures of American Sign Language, the poses in the panels do not actually correspond to the ASL system.
The work shows how mass-media imagery can be a powerful means of communication. In this series, Kruger clearly mixes sign language, gesture and words to enforce and support meaning.
Welcome Analia – again, we are so excited that you are here!!
Analia Saban was born and grew up in Beunos Aires, Argentina. She earned a BFA in Visual Arts from Loyola University, New Orleans and a MFA at UCLA. She studied under the artist John Baldessari. She currently resides and works in Los Angeles. Her work is featured in many art museums across the country as well as around the world.
Her works are represented in the collections of the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Museum of Contemporary art, LA, the LA County Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, Los Angles, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antonio, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Norton Museum of Art in Florida, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Centre Pompidou in Paris, among many others.
Her work examines the physical qualities of common objects. This deep connection is the forefront of her investigation of tangible materials. Her work is experimental in nature. Ms Saban has collaborated with Mixographia, a printing and publishing house for prints that are dimensional, textured and illusionistic. The Little Gallery is showing two of her series. One, is of six prints of garment tags that originated from a show called Dry Clean only. The tags mimic textiles, recreating tears, smudges and stitches – the works direct our attention to our culture and again to the everyday objects that surround us. On a deeper narrative, the tags tell a narrative about labor, global trade and workers rights and help the viewer to think about where our things come from and what befalls them on the way. I read that Ms Saban loves history and how fabric/textiles hold so much information about society and our culture.
The Plastic Bag series are also Mixographia prints – each bag is a print with a different design that varies on Thank you, Have A Nice Day. The series continues to play upon the manipulation of material and elevates the repetitive, the common and the throwaway mentality of our everyday objects - into the realm of art. In a video I watched, Analia- you talked on exploring the overlap between traditional media and new technologies – and how you used acrylic paint for the print which is basically a polymer and not too different than the polymer that is used to make plastic bags, so there is the connection and reference. Let’s give a warm welcome to Ms Saban!