Words Made of Atoms is a solo exhibition by British artist duo John Wood & Paul Harrison in von Bartha‘s S-chanf space. The exhibition is an exploration of language and its manifold interpretations, including over 40 new and recent text-based works across the media of video, painting, drawing, audio, print and installation. Running concurrently with the gallery show, a series of external artworks by the artists will be installed in the nearby village of Zuoz.
Playing with words and their meaning, the exhibition will feature a series of recent drawings and new paintings of words, about words, such as This Is A Painting In A Room (2020). The show will feature Demo Tape (2020), a new video work in which two men perform a strange demonstration using a series of placards; a silent film about saying something. Words Made of Atoms will also feature John Wood & Paul Harrison’s first vinyl record, This is a Circle (2020), featuring spoken word lyrics by Lloyd Cole. Additionally, a series of twelve works will be installed outside the gallery, in the nearby village of Zuoz. These text-based works will continue the artists’ investigation into language, appearing as a series of signs that direct nowhere, advertise nothing and generally provide very little information.
The works in Words Made of Atoms form part of John Wood & Paul Harrison’s longstanding mission to ‘compile an encyclopedia of the largely useless’, which began when the duo first met in art school in the early 1990s. The artists are known for their video work which straddles the lines between tragedy, comedy and irony. These works, which are minimalist, sculptural and have elements of installation and performance, oscillate between failure, calculation and randomness. They often experiment with size, volume and movement of the human body in relation to the surrounding architecture, which the two artists have usually built themselves.
John Wood & Paul Harrison have been investigating written and spoken language in the development of their artwork since 1993. This key element of their practice has remained largely hidden in the working process, until recent years when the artists started to directly and visibly incorporate text into the works themselves. Words Made of Atoms is the first exhibition by the duo that focuses solely on this element of their practice.
“Especially in these times, it means a lot to us to have an eloquent exhibition in our gallery in S-chanf. “Words made of Atoms” will start our season in the Engadin, and I look forward to a very entertaining and joyful exhibition“.Stefan von Bartha, Director, commented
To coincide with the exhibition John Wood & Paul Harrison will produce A Large Piece of Paper on my Wall, an unlimited edition poster available to purchase from the gallery.
About the Artists
John Wood (b.1969, Hong Kong) and Paul Harrison (b.1966, Wolverhampton) make things that move and things that don’t, things that are flat and things that are not, things that are mildly amusing and things that are definitely not.
They make works that form a kind of reference manual for how to do, make, build or draw things that you probably never want to do, make, build or draw. They do it for you. Even though you don’t need them to.
Within these works play is encouraged and the influences on the work are intentionally mixed. Wood and Harrison employ exuberant invention, subtle slapstick and a touch of light-hearted melancholy to reveal the inspiration and perspiration, as well as the occasional hint of desperation, behind all creative acts.
This attempt to compile an encyclopaedia of the largely useless, started in 1993 after they met at art college. They live and work in Bristol and Liverpool.
Selected solo museum show include: CAMH, Houston, USA; Mori Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; and Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland. Selected group shows include: ‘Art Now’, Lightbox, Tate Britain, London; ‘Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain’, Whitechapel Gallery, London; ‘You’ll never know’, Hayward Gallery Touring, UK; and ‘New British Video’, MoMA, New York, USA. Selected screenings include: MoMA, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Selected Collections include: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Arts Council Collection, UK; Centre Pompidou Collection, Paris; and Kadist Foundation, Paris.