My Life Is An Index

“My life is an index.” is a group of art works which embody the various notational systems aligned with Schoenberg’s 12 tone musical scale starting with Guido of Arezzo’s sung syllables of solfege in the 11th century; the color theory of Issac Newton in the 17th century; the manual system of hand positions by John Spencer Curwen in the 19th century to the artist’s own system of 12 verbal interjections, that is, single syllable expressions between speech and sound assigned meanings in terms of notes. Utilizing each of these systems, Szymanski makes drawings, paintings, inflatable sculptures, neon, wall texts and cibachrome prints. 

In addition, there is a musical performance as part of the work whereby the 12 tone interjection series will be applied to a musical composition, written by Betsy McClellend and performed by the Ekeles Vocal Ensemble. The libretto is a translation by Szymanski of a Pierre Reverdy poem called LOST EDGE OF A SQUARE/DARK CORNER/OBSCURE CORNER or Three meanings of Pierre Reverdy (i.e. THE DAUGHTER, THE PERPETUAL GUEST, THE FATHER) with editorial comments taken from an entry in her recently completed 11 year email project called the cockshut dummy. 

The cockshut dummy project in its completion of 990 entries of text and mobile phone imagery following the plan of Roget’s Thesaurus will be launched as a part of “My life as an index.” both in an ebook format as well as a paper copy.

Szymanski works with the multiplicity of the tools of language and the way they can be used in her art making practice. Her work is primarily engaged with language: the sound of speech, the visual symbols that represent it and the production of meaning. “My life is an index” focuses on boundaries of likeness, or more specifically the Wittengenstein concept of family resemblance which confronts the conventional views on how words have meaning. Here the meaning of a word or verbal expression is not found from an essential core, which is therefore common to all uses of that word. Instead we travel with the word uses through a complicated network of similarities overlapping and crisscrossing. It is the general overlapping mesh of these features where the word gets its meaning.

For example, in the exhibition “My life is an index”, Szymanski chooses to highlight the note C or the second tone in the Schoerberg musical scale. This tone is also the solfege syllable RE which Curwen assigned a meaning of “promise”, Szymanski assigns an interjection of AAH and Newton assigned the color orange. She then arrives at the synonym “Cheerfulness” entry 833 in her cockshut dummy, which included the quotation :

“Ciao Berlusconi, Libia sta benissimo, non c’e problema!” (which becomes one of the wall texts in the exhibition).