janet grau

I Think I Know What You Want to Say

I Think I Know What You Want To Say

Installation with photography, video, drawings & objects, 2014

I Think I Know What You Want To Say is a work that plays with the idea of collecting something that is essentially immaterial – namely our body language, our gestures and signs. How can I create such an imaginary collection? How can I organize it and show it to others? What discrete ‘non-objects’ will I include in my collection? Can I perhaps organize my (as yet non-existent) collection, in order to then systematically collect according to my own preconceived classification? How do things like desire or chance play into this process?

This work is about human communication and about the process of working together. It’s also about understanding (or misunderstanding) each other.

How do we attribute thoughts and attitudes, or even urges and intentions to other individuals? Do I really understand what you’re saying to me? Do I understand what you WANT to say to me?

I worked with more than 40 people from Heidelberg and the region to create the collection. The gestures presented in videos and images were collected according to 13 pre-defined categories (which themselves – as text drawings – make up a part of the installation):

  • GESTURES YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTRIGUED BY
  • GESTURES YOU’VE BEEN HOPING TO SEE AGAIN FOR AGES
  • GESTURES YOU’VE BEEN SEEKING FOR YEARS WITHOUT SUCCESS
  • GESTURES YOU NEED TO GO WITH OTHER GESTURES YOU ALREADY HAVE
  • GESTURES DEALING WITH SOMETHING YOU’RE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT
  • GESTURES YOU’D LIKE TO RECREATE AND MAKE YOUR OWN
  • GESTURES THAT FILL YOU WITH LONGING BECAUSE THEY DON’T BELONG TO YOU
  • GESTURES THAT FILL YOU WITH A SUDDEN INEXPLICABLE CURIOSITY THAT IS NOT EASILY JUSTIFIED
  • GESTURES WHICH ALMOST EMBARRASS YOU, BUT DON’T
  • GESTURES YOU’D LOVE TO IMITATE, BUT DON’T WANT ANYONE TO SEE YOU PRACTICING
  • GESTURES THAT DEFY INTERPRETATION, THOUGH MANY HAVE TRIED
  • GESTURES THAT SEEM TO BE REFERRING TO SOMETHING IMPORTANT, THOUGH PERHAPS THEY AREN’T
  • GESTURES THAT ARE HARD TO READ, BUT MESMERIZING JUST THE SAME.

Behind the playfully poetic title lies one of Janet Grau's typically subtle and cleverly thought-out performances, which becomes tangible for the viewer in a media installation for the exhibition in the Kommandantenhaus in Dilsberg. […] If you take a closer look at the catalogue of gestures which Janet Grau has developed…[it becomes clear that the] classification criteria she has created for her collection of gestures is not derived from a scientific structuring scheme based on observable forms of gestures. In an obvious analogy to Italo Calvino, the categories she has developed stem instead from a reflection upon the possible subjective needs and expectations of an imaginary onlooker. […] The work »I Think I Know What You Want to Say« implies one of those basic ideas that has time and again inspired the artist, namely the question of whether (and if, then how) we even understand each other at all when we communicate using our current modes of communication.

This work was shown at the exhibition Atelier und Künstler at the Kommandantenhaus Dilsberg.

I created an edition of five fine art inkjet prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag and a mirror piece with text.

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