Tife Aladesuru, Bodysuits (detail), 2020
Jonathan Zong, Biometric Sans (sample setting), 2018
Kay Rosen, Mappings (detail: Why Is Butter Yellow?), 2017
Lee Friedlander, New City, New York, 2003
Jonathan Zong, Biometric Sans (detail), 2018
Pope L. Fushia Jesus, 2018
Udamsak Krisanamis, Guru Speak, 2012
Claire Wahmanholm, O, 2020
Katy Didden, Ore Choir (detail: [inside out]), 2020
Laurel Schwulst, Flight Simulator (detail), 2018
DexterSinister, Letter & Spirit, 2012
Allana Clarke, Meh Muddah Teach Me to Hate Blackness in Myself & in Others
Anonymous, protest sign, 2020
Ben Doessel & James Lee, Ugly Gerry, 2019
Augusto De Campos
Elisabeth S. Clark
Ben Doessel & James Lee
New York Modular Society
Q Takeki Maeda & Jay Chung
Isabel Urbina Peña
October 4 – December 5, 2020
Saturdays 1-6pm and by appointment
Broodthaers Society of America
520 West 143rd Street
New York, New York 10031
take the A,B,C,D or 1
train to 145th Street
The BSA is located on the parlor floor of a Harlem brownstone and is only accessible by stairs. If you have an access request, please contact us
via email or call +1 718 916 7938 to make arrangements
THE BROODTHAERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA is pleased to present WRECKED ALPHABET, an exhibition organized by Joe Scanlan and Eric Li that brings together over forty artists, graphic designers, musicians, and writers whose work engages the alphabet.
Many artists over the past one hundred years have made use of the alphabet as a ‘thing’, from Dadaists and Concrete poets to Pop artists and the Oulipo Group. WRECKED ALPHABET takes cues from these legacies (and others) but focuses on recent practitioners. Four precedents in particular form the cornerstones of the show: Lee Friedlander’s Letters from the People (1994); Claudia Rankine’s The End of the Alphabet (1998); Christian Bök’s Eunoia (2001); and DexterSinister’s Letter & Spirit (2012). Each has had a profound effect on how we see, think, and speak the Latin alphabet today. In these tumultuous times, the very institution of signs that we use to express our thoughts is open to exuberant scrutiny.
The artists in this show by turns elide the alphabet, puzzle it, dismantle it, and politicize it, all the while transforming its letters into a more chimerical system of signs. Through such techniques as erasure, collage, pruning, rebus-making, word play, animation, and univocalizing, the cumulative effect is a heightened awareness of the alphabet as a discrete set of objects, a semiotic system, and a social construct. In this spirit, WRECKED ALPHABET will exist as an exhibition, a reading room, and a website simultaneously, with no distinction as to whether any one context presents a better experience than any other.
Font design is a critical aspect of the show, given the extraordinary range of images and materials artists are using to render it, aided by conceptual license and abetted by more accessible computer software. Artists in WRECKED ALPHABET have made fonts out of everything from street signs and hair extensions to cocoa butter and Blinky Palermo. The title of the show itself is set in Ugly Gerry, a font designed by Ben Doessel and James Lee from twenty-six of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the United States.
WRECKED ALPHABET will also feature three new texts: Katy Didden’s Ore Choir
, a manuscript of thirty poems composed in the voice of lava, unearthed from eight hundred years of writing from and about Iceland; Broodthaers: On Des!!!gn
, a scholarly pamphlet by Eric Li on the crucial role type design plays in our reception of Marcel Broodthaers’ industrial poems; and Alphabetland
, the first studio album in thirty-five years by the LA-based punk band X.
With work by Aarati Akkapeddi, Tife Aladesuru, the Alphabettes, Christian Bök, Kara Bressler, Augusto de Campos, Sierra Castaneda, Elisabeth S. Clark, Allana Clarke, Dexter Sinister, Katy Didden, Ben Doessel, Nazli Ercan, Lee Friedlander, Carson Gutierrez, Lily Healey, Katie Holten, Inger Christensen, James Lee, Peter Kazantsev, Udamsak Krisanamis, Eunice Lee, Eric Li, Estibaliz Matulewicz, New York Modular Society, Paulina Olowska, Omnivore, Neeta Patel, Pope.L, Q Takeki Maeda & Jay Chung, Claudia Rankine, Srikanth Reddy, Kay Rosen, Laurel Schwulst, Kevin Tseng, Isabel Urbina Peña, Cynthia Vu, Claire Wahmanholm, Sydney Wilder, X, Amy Yao, And Jonathan Zong.
The Broodthaers Society provides a forum in which America might contemplate itself through the life and work of Marcel Broodthaers. When Broodthaers died at the relatively young age of fifty-two, he left behind many unfinished works on such themes as the amateur, laziness, art and merchandise, and the alphabet. The Broodthaers Society periodically mounts exhibitions that expand on these ideas, ever mindful of the knowledge gained by making things.
is an artist and director of the Broodthaers Society of America. Eric Li
is an independent graphic designer and a software developer at MoMA.