Joseph Kosuth

By Vogel, Sabine B. | Artforum International, November 1993 | Go to article overview

Joseph Kosuth


Vogel, Sabine B., Artforum International


The floor was covered with gray carpet, the ceiling with penetrating, domineering tiles that created a gridlike pattern. I cannot think of another exhibition space in which I have seen less successful uses of the available space. Joseph Kosuth's installation, A grammatical remark, 1993, is, by contrast, noteworthy. Though presented in his signature manner--a black room with white script--the connection it forged with the architecture of the space was more than just another declination of his concept of art. The viewer entered a boxing ring. The carpet floor became a floor of action. Surrounded by quotes from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, and Friedrich Schleiermacher, and cut off from the outside, the borders of the space were welldefined. What Kosuth probably envisions in all his installations was made crystal clear here: punctuation marks (comma, parentheses, etc.) made of neon tubing appeared as windows to the world, like daylight entering from the outside.

"Aspects of the technical interpretation are generally confused with aspects of the grammatical interpretation." The quote from Schleiermacher began the line of text. In German this phrase is a chopped-up sentence fragment, but its invitation to apply the written word to the visual image is clear. The grammar of art is the architectonic context, and through signs the borders among the various systems are determined. …

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