Martin Firrell
To Understand a
Thing Fully Is
to Be Able to Say
Nothing about It
This work was commissioned by Galerie IFF, Marseille France to mark the centenary of the birth in that city of typographer Roger Excoffon (1910-1983).

Excoffon was one of Marseille's most distinguished citizens, a typographer and graphic designer, creator of many classic typefaces including Banco, Mistral, Antique Olive, and Choc, as well as the livery for the national airline, Air France.

IFF commissioned 7 artists and designers to create text posters which used or commented on Excoffon's work as a typographer. The artists and designers commissioned for the project were Åbäke, Fiona Banner, Laure Provoust, Liam Gillick, Martin Firrell, Ryan Gander, and Stephane Le Mercier.

The completed text posters were exhibited at Galerie IFF, Marseille, and flyposted throughout the city from December 2010-February 2011. The seven flyposters were also exhibited in Canada (Georgia Scherman Project Inc, Toronto) and Japan (Star Projects, Nagoya) and offered for sale in a signed edition.

To Understand A Thing Fully Is To Be Able to Say Nothing About It reflects on the nature of understanding and knowledge - what happens when understanding exceeds the expressive capabilities of language?

Is the only reasonable response to completeness of understanding, silence?

The text of this project first appeared in a manifesto published by the artist in English, French and Russian in 1996.

The pamphlet, titled Lucid Between Bouts of Sanity, meditated on the limitations of language, drawing the conclusion that only a limited language, or the absence of language entirely, was equal to the task of expressing complete and profound understanding of a thing.
Part Of
Avec Excoffon
Marseille France, Dec 2010 to Feb 2011
greyscale pdf
Hi-res image
20 items
Supported by
City of Marseille