As part of Pilot Projects, ASU Art Museum presents “Text as Image,” an outdoor public exhibition of text-based art. Artists have long used text in artworks as a tool for social and political dialogue. Located in the museum’s underground courtyard and in front of the building, “Text as Image” brings together four artists: Jacob Meders (Phoenix), Kristin Bauer (Tempe), Hugh Hayden (New York) and Iván Argote (Paris).
Meders' vending machine of prints, “Warbird Press” (2014–present), asks us to consider how the legacy of colonialism affects indigenous people today and asks us to imagine new possibilities. Bauer’s banner installation, “Dia/Chronic” (2021), explores the way language and meaning evolve, with a focus on the history of propaganda. The work also challenges systems of oppression such as male dominance and white supremacy. Hayden’s “Pillory” (2020), addresses power, control and justice in a sculpture that mixes a modern-day police barricade with a medieval punishment device to ask whether ideologies of punishment have changed or stayed the same. Argote’s “Tiernos, We, Somos and Strong” (2018–2019), comprises concrete chairs inscribed with keywords that bring viewers together to question how we relate to one another through affection, emotions and humor in increasingly polarized times. Together, these text-based works address current events, giving voice to the social and political movements happening today around colonialism, racial justice, femicide and freedom of speech.
Pilot Projects is an initiative that emerged from ASU Art Museum’s unique ability as a university art museum to be adaptive and experimental. Arising from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and a nationwide call for museums to address racial and social justice, Pilot Projects is a vehicle to center art and artists in the service of creative free expression and community well-being.
Image credit: Kristin Bauer, "Dia/Chronic," 2021, dye sublimation eco inks on poly nylon banner. Photo by Grey Shed Studio.