A photo of a hand scribbling, the expression on a singer’s face, words and phrases written on restaurant tablecloths: traces brought together by Joseph Grigely in the strange catalogue of a system we cannot fathom.
To celebrate his 20 years with Air de Paris, Grigely has come up with an exhibition whose title eludes enunciation. This is not a matter of an inability to convey a feeling, for the meaning is right there on the paper. You can see it, but you can’t say it, and what can’t be verbally stated can’t be heard. Grigely became deaf when he was 10 and can’t even hear the sounds of his own body anymore. Like the music he perceives by putting his hands on walls, this title is like a finger placed on your vein: a vibration, a beating.
This is the system the artist has set up for communicating with the world around him. «When I’m with friends I can often tell from their facial expressions that something auditory has happened. Is it something someone has said? Or something they’ve heard? In that kind of situation I often ask people to write things down for me. I learn lots about the world that way.»
Grigely keeps these scraps of conversation and extracts them from their real context. If his Conversations(1) are untitled, they certainly have subtitles; a word or phrase in parenthesis can act as a semantic key that identifies a communication process. A shift takes place: hands become tools and faces instruments, worn tablecloths become blank pages and the medium becomes a message. This strategy functions on several levels: originally used in an exhibition as a support for the works of Amy Vogel, Horizontal Storage Rack has been reproduced, but augmented with a polyurethane leg. It becomes a witness, «not so much an object as the trace of a movement(2)» – a memory of a past exhibition.
Playing on the levels of reality, Grigely scrolls through the credits of an exhibition that never happened, via a sound track put together from auditory memory, sight, and touch. There had been talk of bringing together Pierre Joseph and Joseph Grigely and their shared passion for fishing. Their hobby and their names, sounds, and recollections intermingle. Floating like ghosts, like the missing leg of a table.
1 ex: Untitled Conversations (Names); Untitled Conversations (The twists and turns that conversation take)
2 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, 1954-1956. About plastic.