“There are the Rhetoricians, who dissolve all meaning into form and make form the sole law of literature, and the Terrorists, who refuse to bend to this law and instead pursue the opposite dream of a language that would be nothing but meaning, of a thought in whose flame the sign would be fully consumed, putting the writer face to face with the Absolute. …to leave the evanescent world of forms, he (the Terrorist) has no other means than form itself, and the more he wants to erase it the more he has to concentrate on it to render it permeable to the inexpressible content he wants to express. But in the attempt he ends up with nothing on his hands but signs -signs that, although they have traversed the limbo of non-meaning, are no less extraneous to the meaning he was pursuing. Fleeing from Rhetoric has led him to the Terror, but the Terror brings him back to its opposite, Rhetoric. Thus misology has to turn itself over into philology, and sign and meaning chase each other in a perpetual vicious circle.” - Giorgio Agamben (from A Man Without Content)
In their darkened outposts on the peripheries of language, the figures of Pierrot and the parrot bump into one another every now and then. One squawks and the other raises an eyebrow. Etymologically, they share an origin (both coming from Pierre(s), French for stone (Perroquet, Pierrot) diminutives of the name for the apostle Peter, little stones) and also through their given metonymic personas associated with mimicry and language through their fragmented, opaque relation to it. The parrot, that only mimics the language of others when in captivity, offers speech without syntax. Pierrot communicates syntax without speech as if to say (without saying) that the words would only be in vain. Both figures lean towards us, cryptically, objectifying their own subjectivities and by doing so point towards a hollowness of language. In mimicry and silence they turn the tongue to stone.
I was born into the ideological ruins of modernity just several miles from the address of this gallery. The Cold War was petering out and the US was beginning to anticipate its own hegemony. I was told that this was all a continuation of the Enlightenment project and therefore confused. It took me a couple of decades to understand that my interest in abstraction had less to do with the various twentieth century traditions of reductive, non-objective expression (or at least in reading these merely as such) and more to do with the limitations of representational transference and non-transference. These limitations would mostly be legible through negative registrations, saturations that fed a leak. I’m interested in abstraction as a byproduct of representational processes that threatens the veracity of these processes. The works I’ve made for this show absorb matter from one another and accrue in a way that makes it difficult to say whether it is moving towards a density of image, a density of material or neither. They dictate their terms from within and superficially mimic tendencies from the other works, simultaneously.
We humans are especially pathetic creatures in our endless fascination with our own constructions and in the scope of our ability to declare or deny proximity to them as it suits us. Apparently incapable of negotiating any basic social or phenomenological event without holding out some sort of tool or weapon we try to preserve this short distance from the rest of the universe while we bake in its gaze.
If the prognosis of a totalizing, collective late capitalist schizophrenia is to envelope us, it may not be such a bad idea to gravitate towards a less terrified understanding of what it might mean to lose the distinction between ourselves and the space we exist in rather than merely to wait for it to be removed.
JAMES KRONE (b. 1975 in Chicago) lives and works in Berlin.