I Wrote I Love You in the Sand - Language and Spirit in Contemporary Art
17 July 1999
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti
Starting from the linguistic turn, i.e. the moment when “linguistics, semiotics, structuralism et similia asserted themselves with a great command within the sphere of human sciences and arts”, Senaldi talks about the evolution of the bounds between art and language across the XXth century to the point of motivating the use of audiovisual media in conceptual, performance and site-specific art.
Introduced with cubism and futurism, it’s only with conceptual art that language radicalizes within artistic practice, which is considered to be a communication and signification phenomenon, just as any other cultural phenomenon. Conceptual art identified art and communicative code itself, while the avantgarde limited to permute an existing code with a new one. Despite conceptual works tended over time to bow to materiality and market logics, the linguistic extremism of the 60s and the 70s keeps on living in a contradiction that could not be ignored. “The contradiction made explicit by conceptual art actually reveals the intrinsic checkmate on which language itself is founded: in other words the symbolic system which established its translatability over the untranslatable, the describable over the indescribable, the linguistic over the non-linguistic, the semiotic over the non-semiotic and so forth”. Referring to Pasolini’s semiotic theories, according to which reality is per se a language that can only understand itself by mirroring into its audiovisual status, i.e. its written language, Senaldi identifies in conceptual art the pivotal virtue of “bring to the fore the generalized dialectics of the concept which obverts things themselves, bringing them to their audiovisual status or simply placing them in the “video stage””.
Marco Senaldi (1960) is a professor, PhD, theorist and curator. He was a lecturer in Università di Milano Bicocca, in IULM di Milano and in Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. He curated several international exhibitions, among them Critical Quest (1993), Cover Theory - L’arte contemporanea come reinterpretazione (2003), Il marmo e la celluloide (2006), Fuori Fuoco – visioni video (2012). He collaborates with Flash Art and wrote articles for artribune, Il manifesto, Il corriere della sera and Alfabeta2. He is a television writer for Rai and Mediaset, and published diverse essays that connect philosophy, cinema and arts.