Good writing: a work of art?


Conceptual art and writing

I have to admit that my knowledge of conceptual art is fairly limited. However, I’m now slightly better informed on the subject, thanks to BBC Four’s recent documentary, “Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art” – presented by Dr. James Fox. Engaging as the programme was, it was the work of one particular artist that intrigued me the most – that of Scottish conceptual artist, Robert Montgomery. The documentary featured a particular installation by Montgomery, containing the message: “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive” displayed in large, white illuminated lettering.

Originally created in Bexhill-on-Sea, the work was recreated on the banks of the Thames, near Tower Bridge, for the purposes of the documentary. Dr. Fox interviewed passers by, as they came across the work, in order to gauge their reactions. These interviewees appeared to be moved by the work: an older couple explained that it reminded them of the war, while another couple said it had stopped them in their tracks. Fox went on to interview the artist about his work; Montgomery admitted that he had been surprised by the popularity and level of engagement with the piece, explaining that an internet search of the work achieves a huge number of results, while countless people around the world have had the text tattooed.

It is immediately clear from this that Montgomery’s work connects personally to a large number of people, on a meaningful level. In my opinion, the popularity of the work is, in part, evidence that the written word still has the power to engage and inspire people, even in today’s image-saturated media environment – a reassuring fact for any writer!

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