Union Gallery Bookshelf Selection Project
November 22, 2016 - March 4, 2017 | Curated by Christopher Grant
Located just outside the gallery - stop by any time of the day
In response to the current Union Gallery Exhibition Reveal, this selection of artist book and exhibition catalogues aims to comment on the role of language in the formation and understanding of one’s identity. The decision to predominantly display the cover of each publication is to remark on the identity of the book itself, as chosen by the designers and publishers. While the covers function to symbolically establish an identity through the use of visual material, they also do so through the use of or lack of language. This visual identification is intended to express the entirety of what is to come in a brief moment, a glance or passing, and through this to draw in the passerby, enticing them to delve deeper into the book. Ones own fashions and style of dress operate in a similar way—where self-defining elements are used to not only announce our chosen identity, but also the markers of that identity. These visual elements can help us self-identify, as well as identify the groups with which we associate.
It is noteworthy that some of the selections incorporate language that is in reverse. At times the backwards text is purposefully misleading, while at other times it is playfully hidden. However it is presented, this backward usage accomplishes a disassociation with the word’s intended meaning, while still representing itself as a readable element. With some texts the lines are broken, with redacted or knitted transgressions purposefully disturbing the readers’ ability to understand, while also at times highlighting specifically what one should understand. The authoritative nature of these textual disturbances gesture toward loss of choice, a nuance those who have lost their own language understand. It is through this process that histories fade, understanding lessens and divisions begin. Division between one’s self, and one’s own culture, heritage, surrounding. These divisions are what transcend generations and what filters diversity to uniformity through a loss of understanding of the cultural waypoints that language helps us to navigate.
Christopher Grant is a fourth year art history student at Queen’s University.