Index 002 (Bxal)

  • 1973
  • Art & Language
  • offset on paper
  • (geïnstalleerd kunstwerk) 144 x 625,5 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1982
  • Inventory number 944

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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'Index 002 (Bxal)' by the group of artists Art and Language consists of 27 sheets of paper which each contains a number of staves and fragments of a text. The work is presented in three layers of nine sheets next to each other. The top layer is printed with black ink, the middle layer with red ink and the lower layer again with black ink. The text, which runs over the various sheets and should be read line by line, serves as a topic for discussion. Statements are made and questions are posed which invite the viewer to think about matters such as the need for language and the function and effect of exchanging thoughts.

Art & Language is the collective name of a group of artists who produce works in different combinations which consist mainly of critical and polemical texts. They raise issues about the conditions for art and the way in which art functions. By presenting the works as art, Art and Language removes the distinction between art and art criticism and between language and the visual arts. This work was first exhibited in 1973 in New York. In addition to the part described above, it also comprised forms at the time which could be completed by the public in accordance with instructions written by Art & Language. These instructions contained various multiple choices. The additions of the public obtained in this way were seen as being part of the work.

Art & Language opposed art which removes itself from language, which is produced intuitively and does not ask for or provide any intellectual explanation. The art of Art & Language was based on the ideas of the philosopher Wittgenstein, who was concerned with the truth of propositions. In addition, it was influenced by the thoughts of Karl Marx, particularly those where attention is devoted to the mechanisms in society which cause and maintain forms of incorrect beliefs.

Between 1972 and 1976 Art & Language made a number of works with the title “Index”. These works were created on the basis of the need to take a critical look at their own work. The viewer is assigned an active role and explicitly invited to think about what is raised for discussion in the work concerned. 'Index 002 (Bxal)' was created at a time that there were divisions within the Art & Language group. Reference was made to this in the fragment of text: “Various groups are fighting bitterly amongst themselves.” In this way, Art & Language also saw itself as a subject for discussion. Because the ideas and thoughts about art had a central place in this group, its work is classified as Conceptual Art.

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