Signe Contre-signes: A.R.T.: 1972 - 1985
This work in three parts was initially conceived for an exhibition of conceptual art at the Kunstmuseum of Basel in 1972. It could not be satisfactorily completed and was replaced at the last minute by another.
A good ten years later, it was acquired and completed for a Swedish collection, and then bought again a few years later by a French gallery (Nahon). It was also included in the exhibition "Les Territoires de l'Art" organized by Pontus Hulten in 1990, in Leningrad.
The piece consists of different sizes of striped canvases mounted on frames forming three porticos (three volumes) of different shapes but same height. Depending of the viewer's location, each takes the shape of a capital A, a capital R or a capital T. These letters (signs) serve as models for a set of constructions covered with striped white and green fabric (signs) and give life to three sculptures around, between and under which people can walk.
This work – which, in a critical and friendly way, directly addresses a "conceptual" art that was very early characterized by a great propensity to display words and even entire sentences in the form of mural paintings (on the ground of dispelling painting and sculpture)- should be understood as an abstract sculpture. So much so that the letters that constitute and inspire it are, to me, only secondary, and can even disappear depending on the exhibition space. For example: in a room too little to look at the work from afar and figure out the signs.
But in a space where viewers can take distance, the letters become readable again and the whole work can be understood as a modest tribute to H.O.L.L.Y.W.O.O.D, the letters that overlook the district of the same name in Los Angeles. The work, three going-through sculptures, therefore changes with the position of each viewer: T.R.A or A.R.T, it depends.
Daniel Buren, 11 April 1992, in Territorium Artis, Kunst und Austellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Trade Edition, 1992
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