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Irma Blank

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We are delighted to announce our first exhibition with Irma Blank (*1934 in Celle, Germany) featuring a spectrum of works from nine different series on which the artist was working on from 1970 through 2018. 

A passionate reader and lover of language, Irma Blank was born and raised in Northern Germany. In 1955, in her early twenties, she met her Italian husband with whom she moved to Sicily. The gap between the two countries and the two languages was immense – it led her to question the adequacy or rather the inadequacy of any language. She then realized ‘that there’s no such thing as the right word’ – even in one’s mother tongue – to really convey meaning/feeling. Blank’s entire body of work is based on language and therefore literature – whether emptying books from their meaning or creating a new form of nonverbal, asemantic writing, for instance by creating drawings that mimick the layout of existing books/newspapers or using a utopian alphabet. Closely linked to her personal story, but simultaneously emanating from the migrant and displaced condition, her work is the result of a matured conceptuality, but asserts itself in the corporality of production; it engages with a utopic community of hypothetical readers, but it is also in its nature, a soliloquy. This contradictory and fascinating condition becomes clear in her work when brought together as a whole, from her first to her most recent works.

Irma Blank considers all her work a form of ‘universal writing’ in which the line sets language free from meaning, in which emptying is a way of accessing the universal: ‘nothing becomes everything’ she says. It denudes writing of sense to charge it with other values. In pursuit of this central aim, her work developed into a choreography of presence: each work seems to responds to a breath, an inner need of expression. It creates a unique universe where everything is made up of nuances which are almost like silences, manifesting the pure energy of being and marking time through drawn lines. If it tells us something, it is a tale about presence and self-discovery, about the excitement of beginnings and the acceptance of endings. 

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