Works from the collection

Speaking Images

September 11 – November 16, 2019

Moving images are the principal medium of the present. Videos, films, 3D animations, virtual worlds are also the defining formats of contemporary art. The political dimensions of our own lives, social challenges, cruelties ancient and recent, the great questions of who we are and who we might yet be—all these manifest themselves with unrivaled lucidity on the screens and monitors that are the visual signature of this time of wrenching changes.

But moving images do not just show—they also speak. It hardly needs to be said that films are essentially works of auditory art as well; everyone knows that, from documentaries to computer games, spoken and written words are virtually indispensable components of the sound and video tracks. Still, there are moving—and deeply moving—works of art that give far greater weight to the word, the sentence, the narrative than is customary practice in the various filmic genres; works in which language is at the heart of the action and a genuine material of art. The phrase "moving images" does not do these works justice: they are speaking images. Images of language and writing in motion, addressed to the ear or presented to the reading eye.

This emphasis is not in contradiction with the visual quality that is no less characteristic of speaking images. Yet a disconnect often runs between image and language, a rift, and this gap is where the work's true space comes into being, a space that we confront and that needs us to give it substance. It is a fertile space, and the imaginings and speculations, the knowledge and ignorance it engenders merit a dedicated consideration. Proposing to survey this space, the exhibition comes at a time when both images and words are too often and indiscriminately taken at face value; when the political conversation tends to pin them down on a single message, a single meaning, that can never be theirs.

For this first presentation of works from the collection, Fluentum asked the Berlin-based gallerists and curators Alexander Koch and Nikolaus Oberhuber to compile a thematically focused selection. Titled Speaking Images, the exhibition they put together presents a dense and tightly organized sequence of works, in which language and text play a prominent role. It encourages the visitors to immerse themselves in the art and does not shy away from audiovisual clashes between works.

Featuring Patty Chang, Frank Heath, Hiwa K, Adelita Husni-Bey, Sven Johne, Ferhat Özgür, Stefan Panhans, Martin Skauen, Hito Steyerl, Vibeke Tandberg, Ignacio Uriarte, and Katarina Zdjelar.

Ground floor

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First floor

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