Found book, circa 1966, sourced from Berlin street, 2022
For her exhibition Argot at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Ella Sutherland considers the possibilities and the vulnerabilities of communication. Informing this work is an appreciation of social histories and the formal, material and technological conditions of language.
Sutherland’s work is primarily visual in nature, and speaks to artistic traditions such as post-painterly abstraction and hard-edge painting. She uses type and pre-existing graphical forms as compositional devices to imply the potential of access and legibility at the same time as obstructing it. For Argot, Sutherland has also experimented with conventions of mechanical reproduction – such as DIN Standards, German type design and Letterpress printing – to explore alternate modes of utilizing systems that have often excluded or controlled that which is not immediately legible.
The objects and texts referenced by Sutherland are multiple; they reach back through time, connecting the archaic and modern with the present. Sutherland’s work is often informed by research in specialist archives, and in the case of Argot, by early lesbian-feminist serial publications held by Berlin’s Schwules Museum.