Peter Coffin — The Colors are Bright
The Colors are Bright
Past: March 20 → May 7, 2010
Dear Peter Coffin,
When we met last month in London, we discussed a fairly rare rhetorical device known as prosopopoeia: a process by which objects are personified as if they could think. Contemporary art is full of unintentional prosopopoeiae — to such an extent that we could describe its most innovative aspect as if haunted by the idea of the “speech of things.” In a reified world, in which goods circulate more freely than human beings, it is tempting to describe the experience of objects, to speak for them, to let them take the position of the subject. The “Ann Lee” project, for example, initiated by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, expressed the point of view of a product — in this case, a manga figure purchased in Tokyo, which has acquired the status of a symbol through art.
After this discussion on prosopopoeia, we went to the Tate Modern, where you were exhibiting a work in a group show. Untitled (Line after Bruce Nauman’s T.T.A.H.T.W.B.R. Mystic truths) is a strip of neon placed on the ground, which squiggles through space, illustrating the path taken by an idea: your work tries to map thought, to give it the solidity of a tool. Are all your works encephalograms? Art makes things visible: from this viewpoint, there exists an interesting and discreet continuity in art history, from Rembrandt to Robert Smithson and including Paul Klee and Robert Filliou. A large part of your work is about giving shape to things: we see vibrations and sounds, and can even listen to mental processes — like the reaction of your brain when you listen to heavy metal songs. You make imperceptible phenomena visible, such as a plant’s reaction to music. With the “Micronations” exhibition, you offered a haven to these autonomous territories created from the imagination and desire of individuals…