Rescue Attempt. Nonsense, 1994

Photograph, 3 fotografies de 20 x 37 cm c/u

If there is something genuinely enigmatic and disturbing in the recent works of Pep Agut, it is their peculiar relationship with language. The form in which the word appears in these works, falling like a strange rain in layers, has very little to do with any kind of narrative vocation. It is not, of course, a concession to that return of the narrator (if there is narration, it is supplied by the images) which seems to be the inspiration for so many other contemporary works. I would say that if there is a resemblance to something that went before it may well be to the treatment given to language by some of the artists identified with linguistic conceptualism. Not, of course, the more analytical of these (in the sense of analytical philosophy); nor those who looked for the tautological expression of the work as analysis of the work (in the style of Kosuth or certain moments of the Art & Language group) but rather those who set out to deploy an abstract analysis of the generative structures of meaning, placing these in relation, perhaps, with the disposition in the space (as in Schema by Dan Graham or in some of Smithson's works).
I would see in this a kind of mineralogical relationship with language (we might recall here Smithson's passion for crystallography) that seeks to identify the sedimentary logics of the production of meaning. As a result, what matters is almost never the concretion of the chosen signifier, but the operator who defines a series of possible choices (for the user of the tool). What I mean is that the relation these works establish with the discourse takes place more on the level of paradigm than of syntagma, not in the flat linearity of the chosen phrase or word, but on the level of the dense depth of language as system (but a crazy, eccentric system, we might say). I am aware that all of this may sound somewhat old-fashionedly structuralist, with the shadows of Chomsky or Barthes appearing behind the curtains, but I am not thinking of anything so diurnal: it is not, of course, a question of venturing the generic structures of some kind of universal grammar, but rather of losing oneself in the ungraspable roots, in the infinite rhizomes, of a deep and dark depth of the discourse that feeds with its secret segregation our ability to handle that strange matter (that is language).

José Luis Brea, 2000.

Technical details

Original title:
Rescue Attempt. Nonsense
Registration number:
Agut, Pep
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Gelatin silver print
3 fotografies de 20 x 37 cm c/u (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Private long-term loan, Barcelona
© Pep Agut
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