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International Light Art Award

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Joseph Kosuth: The Signature of the Word – Light and Darkness, 2001

Die Signatur des Wortes, 2001


In his light art installation "The Signature of the Word", the American conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth summons the power of the thought - and at the same time breaks it down. An aphorism of the romantic poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) formed by neon tubes glows upward from the bottom of a 10-meter deep room, and yet it is not easily readable. Along a slightly sloping bridge, starting at the upper third of the room, visitors zigzag across the room above the artwork, in fact enabling them to move physically in the middle of it. But the structure of the text is being experienced by them in a broken way through multiple bends in the glassy bridge from which they look down. The legibility of the word is transformed into a sensual visual appearance. Thus Kosuth breaks the expectation of the viewers and confronts them with the challenge of opening up the artwork through physical and mental movement.