Bertrand Goldberg

Many works of Conceptual Art involve language, either in conjunction with images or as a substitute picture that presents art as information. Language surrounds any kind of art in reproduction or on display (as in this text panel). One key innovation of the Conceptual era was to make viewers plainly aware that such language is neither neutral nor transparent.

Conceptual Art similarly pushed for photography to be understood as a language of sorts that carried the greatest force when it appeared at its most prosaic. Sometimes—as in the works in this exhibition by Laurie Anderson, Adrian Piper, and Martha Rosler—provoking skepticism served to foster a social conscience in viewers. Other artists, among them Robert Barry and Allen Ruppersberg, cultivated playful or meditative disjunctions between word and image. This section of the exhibition takes its title, meanwhile, from a piece by Mel Bochner that presents a series of contradictory quotations on photography; three of the statements are misattributions invented by the artist. In place of his own theoretical commentary, Bochner offered his hand photographed alongside an incomplete measuring rule, an image that forces the issue of photographic truth as one of actual versus represented scale.

Alighiero Boetti. Twins (Gemelli), September 1968. Private collection.