Alter-Blomsteralfabet was an exhibition, within the exhibition Unfold a Place, taking place in five shop windows, that together form Galleri Se at a street corner in Falun. All windows were filled from top to bottom with printed textiles by artist Marc Handelman, creating an opaque draped surrounding curtain wall of vivid colors (derived from floral pigmentation) and detailed pattern. Curated by Sara Rossling.
Excerpt from exhibition text
At first glance, the airy and usually open gallery appeared closed but it is actually the other way around. In Alter-Blomsteralfabet, the doubtful visitor does not have to think of opening hours or convince oneself to enter the gallery, instead the art can be viewed from the street at any time. These conditions makes the exhibition an unconscious target for the ordinary flaneur or citizen - as it reinserts art into public life. Yet, the curtains connote a domestic place reminding us of the intersection and ongoing conflict between the private and the public.
When stepping closer towards the transparent glass, sharp letters in several fonts including blackletter and runic-like alphabet that speaks for itself, begin to formulate a text. Handelman has used Édouard Glissant's essay For Opacity, in Poetics of Relation (1990), where Glissant conveys the power of opacity in identity, in relation to transparency. Moving beyond a necessary notion of “difference,” opacity is offered as a further resistance to the reductive forms of assimilation that seek to make identities transparent, graspable, and measurable to “an ideal scale.” Glissant writes: “For the time being, perhaps, give up on the old obsession with discovering what lies at the bottom of natures. There would be something great and noble about initiating such a movement, referring not to Humanity but to the exultant divergence of humanities. Thought of self and thought of other here become obsolete in their duality. Every Other is a citizen and no longer a barbarian.” Although opacity signifies visibility it does not legitimize the visible as such, much the same way as Handelman's printed textiles reformulate what is recognizable and identifiable.
In his text, Glissant cites a reaction to idea of opacity “How can you communicate with what you don't understand?” A question resonating through Handelman's body of work that digitally appropriates fonts from images used to promote nationalistic right wing ideas as an attempt to counter their speech. The attempt and combination of content and form convey and communicate a message not yet legitimized amongst these ideologies. The text runs through all windows and is somehow difficult to grasp creating a mass of letters that potentially can shape any word. Still, fragments are visible that originate from distinct corners of our society here woven together with other material from other corners of the world in a new context. Glissant believes that different opacities can coexist and thus converge and together weave fabrics. But to understand these truly and to be in relation, one must focus on the texture of the weave and not on the nature of its components.