Highlighting the rich interplay between imagery and text and the related practices of looking and reading, Wordplay draws primarily from the ICA’s permanent collection to showcase how contemporary artists have played with words to animate and expand their art practices. Text has been part of visual expression for centuries, but “text art” as a genre began to proliferate with the emergence of conceptual art in the 1960s. Artists in the exhibition use text to probe philosophical questions, express and subvert political messages, challenge notions of identity, and connect their artwork with multiple references, writers, and cultural icons. This exhibition will feature many recently acquired works that have never been on view by artists Kenturah Davis, Taylor Davis, Joe Wardwell, and Rivane Neuenschwander, alongside work by Shepard Fairey, Jenny Holzer, Glenn Ligon, and others who have pioneered the creative engagement with language.   

Looking guide: Space Poem #1, Renée Green