Shadows of the Republic
made for Lexicon - Centre for Freudian Analysis & Research

bow-wow, pooh-pooh, ding-dong installed

excerpt from catalogue text by Sharon Kivland

TONY KEMPLEN - Shadows of the Republic, 1997
Kemplen has been working with exisitng texts and subjecting them to various computer manipulations.
Here he has removed everything from the text of Plato's The Republic, except for the punctuation and the spaces between words.
This leaves a ghost text whose literal content can be infinitely reconstructed.
Without the original text the reader has no access to any method of decoding what was once there, indicated by the absence of words whose trace still remains as a space.
While it is still a book, it is a book that cannot be read out loud, and its silent reading can be achieved only as a mute scanning of its pages.
For Saint Augustine the spoken word was a part of the text itself, letters were "invented so that we might be able to converse even with the absent".
As a ghost, the text has left its mark, but the reader may only express it as a pantomime of the intake and expulsion of breath, in defined rhythms of the body (comma, space, semi-colon, space, full stop).
Shadows of the Republic

Neal Beggs - Susan Brind - Thomas A. Clark - Sonja Gangl Tony Kemplen - Stephane Le Mercier - Catherine Noury
The Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (CFAR) invites a discussion between artists and psychoanalysts about the function of the work of art. lexicon is the second exhibition to be held in CFAR's seminar rooms and Rathbone Books. lexicon proposes that a text becomes an image, and that in the forms of letters, words, and the spaces between them some meaning can be established (Susan Brind). lexicon proposes that it is a meaning that escapes too ready an interpretation, that avoids the mere substitution of one term for another (Neal Beggs), which would conceal the image that first meets the eye and to which one must be attentive, tracing out its form before demanding its content (Sonja Gangl). In the framing of a book shop, where certain credited forms of knowledge may be bought and subsequendy aligned in another order (Catherine Noury), texts circulate outside of the confines of moveable objects with particular value (Thomas A. Clark). The works in lexicon appear to demand interpretation while simultaneously appearing to supply one (Stephane Le Mercier), seemingly meeting the demand of the viewer while equally frustrating it. lexicon will be read in order to be able to read, retaining something at the level of the image that is resistant to reading. (Tony Kemplen). In seminar 2 Lacan warns of the dangers of trying to understand, when one should instead simply listen. Letter by letter, the viewer will of course become a reader, silently mouthing where a finger might outline instead. lexicon imagines a moment of waiting, in which these works may be taken literally, a la lettre and avant la lettre.
Shadows of the Republic