Galerie Hubert Winter

Haim Steinbach
8. – 29. March 2002
... doch auch das Denken des größten Philosophen ist noch ein Versuch,
Macht über die Welt zu gewinnen.
I.A.Caruso. Die Trennung der Liebenden (1968). Wien, Turia+Kant, 2001.

Die neuen sprachbezogenen Arbeiten von Haim Steinbach werden erstmals in Wien gezeigt.

Haim Steinbach's work with language proposes that reading is an act of seeing, and even if this is not always, strictly speaking, the case, the graphic codes which proliferate in our current media culture accustom us to word and image arriving i the same package. Steinbach is interested in vernacular or sayings, the sort of speech that strikes us as both direct and shared, both commonly and readily understood. The promise of vernacular - in slogans, catch phrases, ad copy, figures of speech -- makes communication seem effortless. Words become memorable, easy to repeat. If language here hits its target, it is because vernacular is an expression of readerly consensus or fluency in matters of social relations as well as about particular cultural meanings. Steinbach queries this consensus, because for him, what we think we know about what we see, speaks to our understanding and misunderstanding of our place in the world, and about our levels of contentment and discontent within these relations and meanings.

Steinbach is a veteran collector of short statements. When he comes across a colloquialism, a title, or a slogan that strikes him as intriguing and relevant to his work, he clips the text, conserving both the words and the typeface which is their visual presentation. These sayings function in the culture at large, as a hyperlanguage or character of contemporary techno-culture, which is saturated with speed and preoccupied with the unerring display of convincing statements. By turning sayings into wall-paintings, drawings and prints, Steinbach subverts the original context of the language he's found and moves the words towards new identifications and associations. Language in Steinbach's work is both stable (the typeface remains the same, the words are verbatim) and flexible (the type size of the words changes according to the context of the display, and the words now refer to something else in addition to what they 'used' to mean).

In his language works, when Steinbach conserves a phrase in his collection, it is an act of memory, of preserving a relation of language and community, thus his insistence on dublicating the typeface, the original look of the words. What he does with this found relation by rearranging it visually and conceptually (as image and as referent) invites viewers to participate in a replay of messages, to examine how we identify and re-identify with the language and image before us.

  • Review:, 15.03.02 (PDF)