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The Language Game 
Curated by Lyle Rexer
February 4th, 2022        


NAEMI in collaboration with Kendall Art Center, is proud to announce The Language Game a collective exhibition of outsider art from the permanent collection of NAEMI (National Art Exhibitions of the Mentally Ill).The exhibition was curated by Lyle Rexer, internationally recognized expert in 'outsider art,' author of the book How to Look at Outsider Art. 15 artists from United States, Spain and Cuba are in the exhibition.


The Language Game exhibition proposes works that play a game with language, a game that expands para-literary inquiries. In these works, text is the central motif, acting not only as a poetic entity, but also as an essential aesthetic element.The phrases and words of these 'outsider artists' are enriched with schematic figures, complex tableau's and expressive strokes that achieve a palimpsest-like communication. On this border with the chaotic and indecipherable, the artists may add loose notes in such a way that make it possible to read more private thoughts into the work, but always with the caution that what we think we see may not be what we are getting.


At the same time, the works’ deviations of speech, verbal games and puns intersect with pop culture, references to art, cogitations on sexuality, and the existential anxieties inherent in contemporaneity. Like any exercise in introspection and experience, these works can be understood as fractional autobiographical scripts. The exhibition, then, seeks to draw an incomplete map of anxieties, of the search by untrained artists immersed in the banality of the world to find a form for their experience – from the oppressive overflows of technology to the stress produced by dissonant voices increasingly anti-everything, from the fear that they have surrendered to complex controlling forces to the belief that these forces will lead us to destruction. Their shifting structures of word and image the artists erect may offer them a shield against dread, an experience of catharsis, and a platform for witness to make their inner world known.


Our mission at NAEMI is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by discovering, studying, promoting, exhibiting and preserving works of artistic excellence created by artists recovering from mental illnesses worldwide. NAEMI strives to increase public awareness of this unique creative process and to provide artists with employment opportunities in the arts through the exhibition of artworks. 

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