Halle LinX
Oko Oucho
Marlene Frei
Flux Folk
Freies Museum
Rockn Roll

Project for the First Biennale of Art in Lodz, Poland, Sept. 20 to Oct. 30, 2004

Graffiti scribbling, like it or not, has attained the status of an international art form over the last few decades. And, wherever you look, on one continent or another, most of the words scrawled and sprayed on public buildings, apartment houses, shop windows, war memorials, sidewalks, buses and trains are mostly English-language words and phrases relating to sexual and other bodily functions — short and crude, explicit and economical. And mostly taboo. As the American composer-poet Cole Porter put it so aptly in his classic musical masterpiece Anything Goes, "Good authors, who once knew better words, are now using four-letter words.”

After considerable research into graffiti language, Ann Noël is exploring ways to make four-letter words visually explicit. For one thing she has revived the Renaissance art of anthropomorphic or "human” alphabets, in which artist-draftsmen created ABCs with representations of Biblical characters, mythological heroes, saints and demons, Venuses and naked athletes, and boys and girls at play in their birthday suits. Ann Noël paints her texts on cloths in alphabets portraying well-endowed human bodies in poses illustrating the sexual actions depicted in the message. And, just as unclothed bodies seek the softness of sheets and pillows on which to pursue their friendly intercourse, bedroom linens are the surfaces on which she paints.

The city of Lodz was a vital centre of the European textile industry, and the artist looks forward to working on non-dyed cloth in fabric colours produced in a local factory. She points out that, although most of the texts will be in English, there will most certainly be a Polish word or two — "Lodz itself is a four-letter word!” — as well as familiar four-letter ones from other languages.

Graffiti has been elevated to an art form internationally over the last two decades, though the words scrawled, scribbled and sprayed upon buildings, trains and hoarding remain for the most part English ones, and for economy’s sake as well as for their effect, they are short and rude. As Cole Porter aptly put it, "Authors, who once knew better words, are now using four-letter words.”

Ann Noël has done considerable research into the possibilities of this limited language and paints her texts in alphabets developed from naked human bodies in acrobatic poses, which suggest the sexual nature of the message. As unclothed bodies seek the softness of sheets, pillows and other linen upon which to pursue their intercourse, so this is the surface upon which the artist works.

Lodz (a four-letter word itself) is a city with a long history of a textile industry, and she will be investigating the possibilities of working on non-dyed lengths of cloth in fabric colours produced in a factory there. Most words will be in English, but there will certainly be a Polish word or two included as well as familiar ones from other languages.