Mene Mene Tekel Parsin brings together works by international artists working across a variety of disciplines, who employ words and language to illuminate and obfuscate, fully cogent of the propagandist deployment of slogans and the seductively tall tales of advertising copy.
The artists are Sarah Boulton, Stanley Brouwn, Jesse Darling, Gordon Hall, Evan Ifekoya, Sulaiman Majali, Imran Perretta, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Özgür Kar, Claire Potter, Rosa Johan Uddoh, Hannah Weiner and Constantina Zavitsanos.
Mene Mene Tekel Parsin includes work that employs words and language to illuminate and obfuscate, fully cogent of the propagandist deployment of slogans and the seductively tall tales of advertising copy and the exhibition addresses legibility – hailed by internet utopians, mass-marketeers and contemporary designers as a democratising prerogative that has come to function as a form of surveillance both at border controls and in digital capitalism.
In discourses of gender and disability, legibility is the first condition [of state and systemic apparatus] for access and care, as well as forming the optics of a neoliberal visibility politics that cleaves to familiar societal categories and definitions.
Words are also powerful: symbols, incantations. The Word is itself a stand-in for divinity; the unsayable equates to the sublime. To give a name something is to claim it, and the legacies of imperial scientific fundamentalism have shown the violence of naming and categorising bodies. In this exhibition words become objects, sigils and talisman, or sculptures that stand in for the body (or the world). Works are simultaneously legible and unintelligible and often refuse to take a definitive position on meaning; what is presented as legible might hide a deeper truth in plain sight or evade straightforward signification, playing with the outside and inside of text and subtext.
Whether through the encoding or occluding of words, these works remind us that obscurity, sleight of hand and even mysticism allow for moments of insight and understanding - if the viewer or reader is willing to embrace complexity and enter the realm of the unknowable.
Curated by Jesse Darling and supported through public funding from Arts Council England.
Tickets for the launch can be found here.