Devening Projects is pleased to invite you to the opening of AN ISLET, AN INLET, AN ISTHMUS, AN IBEX, a solo exhibition by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Mark Booth. AN ISLET, AN INLET, AN ISTHMUS, AN IBEX is Booth’s second solo exhibition at Devening Projects.
Mark Booth’s work is an exploration of language, image, and representation. His paintings, performances, and sound installations investigate the many ways that words and phrases convey and fail to convey meaning. His recent practice has centered on durational text-based audio works that examine perceived and imagined experiences organized into simple poetic structures.
Booth’s works for I.I.I.I. represent a departure from the artist’s focus on text, instead bringing attention to the combinatory material of words – letters. These new works study the ephemeral nature of letters, themselves combinations of lines and marks that have been endowed with meaning. The show’s title invokes four words – “islet, inlet, isthmus, ibex” – which do not have a clear conceptual relationship, but rather derive their identity as a group through the alliterative shared letter “I” and the sonic quality of the words operating together.
In this set of works, Booth engages in mental experiments involving combinations of letters – transforming consonant digraphs and trigraphs into single letter hybrids. The drawings present viewers with phrases drawn in an invented font, the depiction of double letters as reimagined single letters, and geometric shapes that suggest the appearance of a letter or word.
Through these drawings, Booth highlights the surprising fragility of letters, which are dependent on relatively precise geometry and execution, and which can become meaningless with small alterations or deviations from orthographic conventions. At the same time, his invented letters and fonts explore the limits of legibility, and ask how much a symbol can be altered while retaining its essential identity. Ultimately, I.I.I.I is a statement of possibility, offering an affirmation of the flexibility and robustness of our linguistic building blocks, and by extension, our enduring ability to communicate.
Booth earned a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987 and an MFA in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995. He is an Associate Professor in Writing and Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In recent years, his work has been shown and performed in Chicago, Berlin, Copenhagen and Melbourne.