A dynamic exhibition and lecture programme looking at how changes in the meaning of words reflect the cultural shifts in society. Keywords is presented in partnership with Tate Liverpool and is based on Raymond Williams’ seminal text – Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society.
Raymond Williams’ book was written to address the malleability and fluidity of language, a condition that Frei and Holder have sought to reflect in their work. In order to scale up Frei’s cursive handwriting, a template – as opposed to a font – was made, allowing the pair to hand-draw ‘seemingly fluid lines, in separate parts.’ A digital font will produce the same letter-form, despite the context of surrounding letters. Instead, Frei describes the template as ‘active’, explaining that through this handwriting: ‘No single letter has a prescribed construction.’ Every letter, so every word, is unconsciously considered in relation to its neighbours. Like our understanding of the changing nature of words, ‘This adaptation according to context,’ say Holder and Frei, ‘is exactly what Williams wishes to pull out with regard to keywords.’
The exhibition design included chairs, which were used for a ten-week course using Raymond Williams’ book as the basis for a new enquiry into the meanings and histories of key cultural terms, under the guidance of writer and educator Adrian Rifkin. Rather than designing new chairs, Frei asked the artists in the exhibition to lend a chair from their own living space or studio to be used by the participants of the course.