Annette Messager: Word for Word
Published by D.A.P./Les Presses du Reel
Edited by Marie-Laure Bernadac. Interviews with Harald Szeemann, Robert Storr, Bernard Marcadé and Suzanne Pagé.
Texts and words are of crucial importance to Annette Messager's work--for her, "words are images." And so words--at once autonomous from, parallel to, and the sources of her visual creativity--are woven throughout her production. She has looked directly at our diverse relationships to language in forms ranging from the early scrapbooks of the 1970s to the large sculpted words of the late 1990s, and others including personal diaries, letters, calligraphy, alphabets and primers. She works with the repeated, drawn, framed and sculpted word; newsprint, collage and montage of texts and photographs; and handwritten texts. Plays on words and palindromes turn up in her exhibition titles and, more recently, in her children's books. All of these uses of language stem as much from Dada and Surrealism as from the aesthetics of the banal and the everyday, and they give rise to unclassifiable texts, which call somewhere between a literature of the news item or photo-essay and poetic maxims for personal use. Messager's frequent recourse to copying down and to repetition then serves as a kind of exorcism: in those cases, writing is something like sewing, with a soothing function. The first section of Word for Word focuses on writing in Annette Messager's artworks. The second includes numerous texts published in magazines or catalogues, as well as unpublished notes on her work and personal reflections on art and life. All of her interviews from 1974 to the present are also included.