Joseph Grigely


gandy gallery

Conversations 1994 - 2016 

Exhibition: May 25 - July 29, 2016


Gandy gallery is delighted to announce the third solo exhibition by Joseph Grigely at the gallery, the first survey of his work in Slovakia, a kind of return to the roots for this American-born artist whose grandparents left the Hungary region for the U.S. soon after World War One.

Joseph Grigely (*1956 in East Longmeadow, Ma., USA) lives and works in Chicago. Featured in the last edition of the prestigious Whitney Biennial in New York, he has also had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; the Grazer Kunstverein, Graz; and the Kunstverein in Hamburg. He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions among them the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Metz; the Sognog Fjordane Kunstmuseum (SFKM), Førde; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and Kunstmuseum, Bern. Bringing together theory, curating and artistic practice, he has been teaching in the Department of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (SAIC) for fifteen years.

In the mid 1990s, Joseph Grigely started to show what he called his Conversations with the Hearing, whose material is directly germane to his deafness. These works consist of scraps of paper (metro cards, invitations, stationary, tablecloths, napkins, business cards, etc.) that were written upon by people who do not know sign language. All these Conversations produce a singular aesthetic, a refined economy of information. Like the conversation notebooks used by Beethoven's speakers after the composer lost his hearing, they offer the possibility for an archeology of discussions while providing a fiction narrative of daily life.

This unique survey of his dialogic oeuvre features works from the 1990s to the present day, from installation to photography including publications and videos. The exhibition reveals the wide range of his creativity that extends far beyond deafness to explore the limits of language as well as questioning the representations of language in the history of art.

Pierre Von-Ow

What Are You Talking About?, 2016, 71 Sheets of paper, pins
Untitled Conversation (Fuck You), diptyque, 1996, Typed text and pencil

"What is it that makes a conversation a conversation?" asks Joseph Grigely in the framed statement below his Untitled Conversation. The latter is a composition of blank papers, those he carries in his pockets so that people write things down instead of telling them at loud. But a conversation is not reducible to speech. Extra-linguistic elements cannot be left aside. This is why he took pictures of the hands of his interlocutors while writing.
These Portraits, also featured in the retrospective, provide an hint about the setting and convey the intimacy of exchange through their format.

In these fifteen conversations, the context is suggested by the trace a coffee cup left behind or the subway ticket. We have some idea of an interlocutor with the name of Felix Gonzales Torres printed on the blue-and-white postcard in the lower part of the composition. The blankness of the supports itself is a starting point to fiction, kept as witnesses, as the tangible hyphens between people. They evidence that communication goes way beyond language and that legibility does not always mean intelligibility. In a sense this work, whose harmony is an obvious tribute to the abstraction and color exercises of Josef Albers, is definitely an adventure in silence."

Pierre Von-Ow

Untitled Conversations, 1995, Framed Text and 15 blank papers, pins

Portraits from 1996-1999 (Susan C., Beaune, France, 10 June 1995; Nicole M. Rotterdam, July 1996; Amy V. Ghent,
31 January 1997; Aletta De J. Rotterdam, June 1996; Jeffrey W., Ghent, January 1996)

Untitled Conversations (Portraits of Joseph, v.1), 2016, Framed text and 6 sheets of paper, pins
Untitled Conversations (Food), 2005, Fifteen sheets of paper, pins  

Household Conversations, 2002/2016, Framed print, 2 chairs, panel, conversation

Untitled Conversation (Sex), 1996, Framed text and one sheet of paper, pins

Untitled Conversations (Names), 1998, Framed text and 16 sheets of paper, pins

Untitled Conversations (Condillac, Rousseau and the History of Deaf People), 1996, Fabricated photograph

Thirteen Green Conversations, 2004, Thirteen sheets of paper, pins