Ach Bartleby! Ach Menschheit!
Neither poet nor philosopher—although he studied both for a certain time—his practice and conception of language makes Lawrence Weiner (*1942) a key figure in the art of the 20th century and beyond. In his STATEMENT OF INTENT of 1969 he defines the foundations of the then-emerging conceptual art and displaces the concept from the artist’s head into the „stream of life“.(1) A work comes into existence with its involvement of a „receiver upon the occasion of receivership“(2)—i.e. as soon as it enters a public sphere.
Weiner’s primary materials of his sculptures are denoted as follows: “LANGUAGE + MATERIALS REFERRED TO”. This phrase reveals Lawrence Weiner’s conception of language itself as a material and furthermore as a material which again refers to materials, or as he declares by himself: “Art is the relationship of human beings to objects and the relationships of objects to objects in relation to human beings.”(3) Materiality and referentiality, entangled in a dialectics which unfolds in the moment of the reception—this entails different linguistic concepts e.