There Is No Copyright On Laws Public Commission for the Rechtbank Roermond
Article 11 of the Dutch Copyright Act states that, under the law, once a text has been edited, it enters the public domain. On the basis of this, a text can be altered as long as the spirit of the wording remains intact. A fact of which the art works created for the court rooms of the new court building of Roermond District Court take full advantage. Stripped of their formal legal language, legislative texts engage in a dialogue with the public and the users of the space.
Installations of meaning
Here, light and language are the materials that reveal the spirit of the space and restore this meaning to the legal texts in a very unusual way. The art works are installations of meaning that call upon all the interpretative faculties: the wording of the legislation is interpreted by using other forms of language but also through widely diverse graphic styles that serve the meaning of the work. The light itself “interprets’ the visual aspect of the work and projects its shadow on the wall.
March 1994, the exhibition “Nr. 36 Passage de Venus, expedition hollandaise pour Réunion” was held in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, a museum generally known as a natural history museum. The museum is typified by a certain intimacy: to view the exhibits, curtains must be pushed aside and later closed again. The intimacy is reflected in the details of the captions, which capture the spirit of the museum staff who have examined, described, and categorised the exhibits.
The exhibition Nr. 36 Passage de Venus, imitates and exaggerates this love of detail and the intimate character of the museum. The hierarchy, however, is reversed: the material is not sought in the museum’s prize exhibits such as the electrostatic generator and the drawings of the old masters but rather in the very smallest of objects: in the captions and the cards. The museum has been transformed into a décor.
The reader is further perplexed by the texts which are too poetic, too intimate and sometimes too shocking to be ‘real’ museum cards, thereby questioning the objectivity and reliability of the authentic cards. In highlighting the linguistic aspect, a thread is woven through the museum. Where today museum cards strive towards a certain objectivity, entirely obscuring the identity of the author, this exhibition underlines the strictly personal and emotional character of a message.
“Marche sur moi” (Walk on me) is an installation designed for the cupola of the Municipal Museum in Arnhem. The installation is a floor of words and wall-mounted text plates, that enter into a dialogue with each other and with the receiver of the message.
The texts are anything but neutral, verging on the aggressive. In this sense, the floor and wall acquire almost personal characteristics. As spectator, you cannot avoid them, a feature which is reinforced because the texts are laid into the floor: the spectator enters into an almost physical involvement with the words.
Walk over me, step over me, stamp on me, crush me, dirty me, sully me, again, and again and again. And the walls say: “Me too, me too …”
A simple piece of orange fabric (hanging softly) with cut out letters in it. The edges are trimmed with a black edge. At first glance, there seems to be something wrong with this banner. A french swear word for idiot, asshole, stupid, that’s the meaning of the word “connard”. Neddam uses the direct language of insult for this work. The viewer is addressed in an abusing and personal tone. Isn’t that confusing for a reader? Who’s abusing who? Am I being abused? Am I personally insulted? Ultimately the meaning of this swear word depends on the reader’s interpretation. In many of her works, Neddam investigates words and plays with their meaning. By using French words outside the French borders, an extra dimension is added to her language game. Besides the swear words, Neddam has made a series of banners with orders in French.
Een eenvoudige oranje lap stof (wat slap hangend) met daarin uitgespaarde letters. De randen zijn afgezet met zwart biaisband. Op het eerste gezicht lijkt er weinig aan de hand met deze banier. Tot de betekenis van het woord connard doordringt, een vulgair Frans scheldwoord voor idioot, klootzak, lul, stommeling. Neddam gebruikt voor dit werk de directe taal van het schelden. De toeschouwer wordt op een indringende en persoonlijke toon aangesproken. Het Franse scheldwoord aan de muur brengt de lezer in verwarring. Wie scheldt er? Waarom wordt er gescholden? Is het scheldwoord aan mij persoonlijk gericht? De uiteindelijke betekenis van het scheldwoord is afhankelijk van de interpretatie van de lezer. In veel van haar werken onderzoekt Neddam de betekenis van woorden en speelt ze daarmee. Door het gebruik van Franse woorden buiten de Franse landsgrenzen wordt een extra dimensie aan haar taalspel toegevoegd. Naast die met scheldwoorden heeft Neddam een serie banieren met Franse bevelen gemaakt.
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