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Word for Word: Texts, Writings and Interviews (1971–2005)

Annette Messager

Violette Editions in association with
Les presses de Réel (2006)

Edited by Marie-Laure Bernadac
Translated from the French by Vivian Rehberg
Hardback with dustjacket, 464 pages, 300 illustrations
25.5 x 19.5 cm (10 x 7 ¾ in)
ISBN: 978-1-900828-21-5
£40.00 Buy the book

Interviews with Harald Szeemann, Robert Storr, Bernard Marcadé, Suzanne Pagé, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and others.

Texts and words are of crucial importance to Annette Messager's work – for her, 'Words are images'. And so words – at once autonomous from, parallel to, and the sources of her visual creativity – are woven throughout her production. She has looked directly at our diverse relationships to language in forms ranging from the early scrapbooks of the 1970s to the large sculpted words of the late 1990s, and others including personal diaries, letters, calligraphy, alphabets and primers. She works with the repeated, drawn, framed and sculpted word; newsprint, collage and montage of texts and photographs; and handwritten texts. Plays on words and palindromes turn up in her exhibition titles and, more recently, in her children's books. All of these uses of language stem as much from Dada and Surrealism as from the aesthetics of the banal and the everyday, and they give rise to unclassifiable texts, which fall somewhere between a literature of the news item or photo-essay and poetic maxims for personal use. Messager's frequent recourse to copying down and to repetition then serves as a kind of exorcism: in those cases, writing is like sewing, with a soothing function.

The first section of Word for Word focuses on writing in Annette Messager's artworks. The second includes numerous texts published in magazines or catalogues, as well as unpublished notes on her work and personal reflections on art and life. All her interviews from 1974 to the present are also included.

Annette Messager, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2005 Venice Biennale, was born in France in 1943 and is one of Europe's most important living artists. Her range of art production includes painting, embroidery, sculpture, assemblage, collage, film montage and writing. She says of her work that, 'Conceptual art interests me in the same way as the art of the insane, astrology and religious art. It's not the ideologies which these areas perpetuate [that] interest me: they are for me, above all else, repertories of forms. I make fun of sorcery and alchemy even if I make full use of their signs.' A major retrospective of Messager's work took place in 2007 in Paris at Centre Georges Pompidou.

Marie-Laure Bernadac is chief curator in charge of contemporary
art projects at the Louvre. She previously worked at the Picasso Museum, at the Centre Georges Pompidou and at the Capc Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux. Bernadac has published numerous books on artists' writings, including those of Picasso, Louise Bourgeois (Violette Editions), and Jenny Holzer. Bernadac was curator of the exhibitions Feminine-Masculine: Sex in Art at the Centre Pompidou (1995), with Bernard Marcadé, and Presumed Innocent: Contemporary Art and Childhood in Bordeaux (2000),
with Stéphanie Moisdon.

Published in the USA by D.A.P.

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