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America Is a Loaded Word
Glenn Ligon, the thingness of neon, and the shifting meanings of language
This week I watched a video featuring the American artist Glenn Ligon talking about a new work he has made, which is part of an ongoing series of neons depicting the word America. Ligon is a heavyweight contemporary artist in the USA, who works across different media, including painting, neon, video, sculpture and photography.
Ligon’s art explores issues of race, sexuality and identity in our world today but with an historical lens, drawing on literature and sources from the past. So he is Right. Up. My. Street. And he’s really interesting to listen to.
Ligon uses text in his work, playing with language to make us think about its shifting meanings in different contexts. In this film he talks about what ‘America’ means, describing it as a ‘loaded’ word.
It’s 10 minutes of fascinating viewing discussing the materiality, manufacture and craftsmanship of neon and its sculptural qualities, the ‘thingness’ of it, and how Ligon uses it to make his words occupy space. I really enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you. I’d love to know your thoughts on it.