“The Weight of Words” at the Henry Moore Institute

“The Weight of Words” is an exhibition featuring contemporary artists and writers from around the world, exploring poetry through sculptural expressions. With a blend of humour and haunting themes, the artworks interweave three-dimensional and linguistic qualities of words, showcasing how sculptural interests in weight, materiality, form, and arrangement blend with poetic impulses to give words depth and presence. The collision of poetry and sculpture disrupts conventional reading experiences, offering new dimensions and meanings to words. Some pieces directly incorporate words, while others present the unsayable, conveying experiences beyond verbal expression. The exhibition includes a newly commissioned poem by Anthony (Vahni) Capildeo on the black granite façade of the Henry Moore Institute. The collision of art forms in “The Weight of Words” generates powerful ways to explore reading, thinking, and writing in three dimensions.

Henry Moore Institute The Weight of Words Selection
Issam Kourbaj, Dark Water, Burning World 148 moons and counting… 2016– Repurposed bicycle steel mudguards, extinguished matches and clear resin. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Issam Kourbaj

The exhibition features an impressive lineup of artists including Lebanese artists Etel Adnan and Simone Fattal, Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj and Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli. An extensive public program of online events and live poetry readings complement the show. Conversations with critics, historians, and writers delve into the impact of poetry-sculpture entanglement on art and literature. Poetry readings explore the spatial and material dimensions of written language, while film screenings in collaboration with Leeds International Film Festival blur the boundaries between sculpture and poetry through the moving image.

“The Weight of Words” celebrates Leeds as a city of cultural significance, anticipating the impact of the planned British Library cultural centre and National Poetry Center in the city. With its diverse range of artists and thought-provoking explorations, the exhibition marks a milestone in the contemporary and future cultural landscape.

Etel Adnan, Simone Fattal, Five Senses for One Death 2020, Ink on lava stones, variable dimensions, Installation view of the group show AISTIT at Kunsthalle Helsinki, 2021 © Simone Fattal. All rights reserved, DACS 2023.

About The Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute, located next to Leeds Art Gallery in the city’s cultural hub, invites everyone to explore their Galleries, Research Library, and Sculptors’ Papers Archive, showcasing sculptures from around the world. They offer a changing program of historical, modern, and contemporary exhibitions and events to encourage thinking about sculpture’s essence and the artists behind it. As part of the Henry Moore Foundation, they serve as a global sculpture hub, fostering connections among artists and scholars and promoting sculpture’s accessibility and appreciation. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in April 2023, the Institute highlights sculpture’s past and future in the city through its long-standing partnership with Leeds City Council.

Location: Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK

Date: 7 July – 26 November 2023



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