In the intimate space of The Reading Room, Rebecca
Carter thoughtfully offers up linguistic works that reveal
how intention and medium simultaneously fail and
profit one another. Her show, “Re: Reading the Love Letter,”
intimates how this is particularly true for personal
correspondence, a form of communication certainly not
immune to the vicissitudes of translation. And it is only
made more perplexing when the word becomes art.
Recall how some have believed that virtuous sentiments
stir within all of us, sentiments thought to be the essence
a nobler humanity, of a true religion. Here, language becomes
something of a Socratic adumbration conveying
truth when it touches the soul. And consider how words
now mainly slip. We find disjointure in every text, in
every passage of every text, and there is no longer a pure
relation of intention to meaning. !e world over now
stands as a text awaiting its interpretative deconstruction.
!e former, much older view provokes us to write
meaningful letters to friends and loved ones, while the
latter incites our playful reception and appropriation of
Carter’s work — mostly fragile thread compositions of
words — seems inspired by both semiotic conceptions.
She draws upon both without naiveté or heavy irony.
!e personal correspondence from which most of the
pieces derive suggests intimacy, sincerity, and a#ection.
!e words and phrases extracted from the letter (or
from other exchanges) seem to disclose this genuine
sentimentality by being works that are delicately threadwrought,
suspended, and exposed. And, like living language,
their fibrous roots seek the surrounding air. !is
nod towards communicable intention, however, is concurrently
challenged by the very act of excerpting those
words and phrases from their context. The medium,
craft, and presentation of the art plays upon itself so well
that it elicits an interpretive challenge: How do we read
art — especially when it uses, or is, language — that alludes
to some original sincerity after it has been elegantly
dissimulated into art?
Thankfully, such questions don’t actually require answers.
Still, it is terribly enjoyable to experience works
that provoke them. And Carter’s do just this. They belie
all myths of perfect communication, but not to the point
of disappointment, rather towards the experience of unending
Rebecca Carter’s work was also recently shown at the
DMA as part of their Late Nights, and in a group exhibition
at the Free Museum of Dallas, with a closing reception
Andy Amato is an artist, writer and teacher