List Projects: Lina Viste Grønli

A gallery view of Lina Viste Grønli's exhibition at the List Center features an E-shaped shelf on an E-shaped table.

Installation View List Projects: Lina Viste Grønli at MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2015. 

Bakalar Gallery
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Lina Viste Grønli
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Through mediums that include sculpture, photography, collage, and writing, Lina Viste Grønli investigates the tensions between physical things and abstract systems, particularly those of linguistics and philosophy.

With considerable humor, and using everyday objects and materials, she considers categories that have been historically opposed—such as the intelligible and the sensible, words and things, the systematic and the arbitrary—and interprets the excess or remainder that is uncontained by these binary structures.

Viste Grønli’s exhibition for List Projects takes as its starting point the letter E, the most common one in the English language. A number of the works transform ordinary pieces of furniture—a table, a bookshelf, a corkboard—into the visual form of an E. She plays with a tenet of structural linguistics, namely that the relationship between signs and the sounds they designate is arbitrary. A photograph, for example, depicts a person performing the sound-shape of the letter E using Eurythmy, a movement art developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1930s. The titles of these works that physicalize the letter E also use words that begin with the letter E, such as EntropyEggplantEbolaEffrontery, and English, forming something of an “E-Poem.”

However, the artist interrupts her system of Es with assemblies of everyday objects bearing no evident connection to the letter. Mussel shells, kitchen utensils, and an apple are adhered to or rest upon books, such as Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785). Playing with the systematic and the arbitrary, these juxtapositions are generated through a method she calls “thinging,” borrowing a neologism philosopher Martin Heidegger used to inflect the noun “thing” into an action, such that these sculptures manifest the material and linguistic acts that allow them to exist. 

In conjunction with the exhibition List Projects: Lina Viste Grønli, the List Center and Torpedo Press have published an artist’s book, Library. The book includes writings by the artist and an essay on statistical linguistics by exhibition curator Alise Upitis. 

Lina Viste Grønli (b. 1976, Bergen, Norway) lives and works in Cambridge, MA. Her recent solo exhibitions include Thinging at Stavanger Kunsthall, Stavanger, Norway; Thinging at Maison d’art Bernard Anthonioz, Nogent, France; The Albaphet & Other Writings at Wiels Contemporary Art Center, Brussels; and Feminism & Selected Writings at Gaudel de Stampa, Paris.

List Projects: Lina Viste Grønli is curated by Alise Upitis, Assistant Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.


Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, Terry & Rick Stone, MIT School of Architecture + Planning, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many generous individual donors.

Lina Viste Grønli, Coca Cola in Chinese Cup On the Genealogy of Morality, 2015
Courtesy the artist, Gaudel de Stampa, Paris,  and Christian Andersen, Copenhagen