De Experten #7
Sara Giannini talks about the work of Ode de Kort
UU TWOO, an exhibition by artist Ode de Kort circles around O and U, a continuation of earlier research on oval or round shapes. The linguistic, (typo)graphic and performative questions that these letters generate form the basis of her research trajectory. From the 21st of September on UU TWOO will be on view in De Brakke Grond. The exhibition is curated by Sara Giannini.
“When language is reappropriated and reshaped we can find new ways of speaking. This happens also with Ode’s collaborations with O and U. In their playing together, which is also absolutely humourous, new shapes, meanings and identities emerge.”
In the context of UU TWOO, we talk to two curators about their first encounter with the work of Ode de Kort, and more importantly, about the pivotal moment to include her work in their program.
Sara Giannini, independent curator en researcher
“I first encountered Ode’s work when De Brakke Grond invited me to curate her solo show. I was very struck by the consistency, precision, and depth of her artistic practice. One can immediately perceive how her research and work methodology with the letters O and U are embedded in daily life. There is an urgency, almost an obsession related to it, that makes the work quite special. Ode talks about exercising and training with the characters. This dedication, or if you want the interlacing of art and life, comes across quite vividly in the work, which constitutes a world in itself, with its rules, patterns, inhabitants, and aesthetics. This remarkable “world creation” enables Ode to move naturally across different media such as photography, performance, video and writing.”
The installation she has developed uses various tropes and objects of the photographic world spatially.
UU TWOO focuses on two different exercises, on the one hand there’s the idea of the absent performer in which cut-outs of Odes legs serve as the artist herself, and on the other hand Ode underlines a polemic of typographical representations. These letters refer to a broader definition than being spoken, Ode focuses on the (typo)graphic, performative and linguistic questions that O and U generate. This textual discourse was important for Sara. “Having a background in semiotics, I was also really taken by the idea of sculptural language, as if O and U were typographic bodies. I am interested in the possibilities that open up when language, as a system that pre-exists and shapes us, becomes a body to engage with. There is an unsettling of power relations that can lead to new configurations of the self. When language is reappropriated and reshaped we can find new ways of speaking. This happens also with Ode’s collaborations with O and U. In their playing together, which is also absolutely humourous, new shapes, meanings and identities emerge.”
“Ode’s performative practice with O and U has emerged from visual research and photography, which is also her academic background. The installation she has developed uses various tropes and objects of the photographic world spatially. It is a form of dislocation and translation between image and space. The idea of reflection and mirroring is also very important. One can say that there is a continuous transposition between photography, installation and performance as a way to test sense-making and unmaking.”
The collaboration with an artist is a very transformative intellectual dialogue that can lead to surprising places. These dialogues often stretches beyond the projects we are working towards. In fact, I have the feeling that they never end.
“It was a nice coincidence that I met Ode after a period of research at Bard College, in Upstate New York, on what I call the “flesh of the voice” in relation to feminist artistic experiences. This research came about after a year of teaching and thinking around the operatic voice, gender relations and ecstasy. Although these are not necessarily references for Ode, I feel that her work on the materiality of language resonates with these practices in mysterious ways, as if connected by an oblique lineage. I think of the language experiments of Theresa Hak Kuyng Cha in the United States, but also about the embodied linguistic practices of Italian feminist artists such as Ketty La Rocca, Tomaso Binga and Mirella Bentivoglio. All these artists were involved in a particular, often bodily, form of poesie concrete. They were researching and shifting the relationship between language and the formation of the self.”
As an independent curator and researcher, Sara is closely involved in the artistic process and the developments within Ode’s artistic practice. “The collaboration with an artist is a very transformative intellectual dialogue that can lead to surprising places. These dialogues often stretches beyond the projects we are working towards. In fact, I have the feeling that they never end. They continue, interrupt and resume over the years. Ode and I have been in a constant dialogue since we started collaborating. We engage both in the more conceptual aspects of her work, but also on the practical side of her exhibition. Ode is a fantastic artist to work with. I feel close to her creative process.”