About Adib Fricke’s word-based art and The Word Company
Alexandra Le Faou

“I know it when I see it”—Do you really?

“Irrespective of where one starts to view the exhibition, one is confronted with works that question one’s comprehension and usual perception of everyday texts and objects. Straightaway with the over-dimensional cloakroom in the first room in harmonious combination with the puzzling word construction, IOAN, on the wall next to it, the view is disturbed: ...”
—Catalogue text, exhibition AF/CH, 2017
Alexandra Le Faou

A Linguistic Alchemist in the Laboratory of Meaning

“Adib Fricke is a linguist alchemist in the laboratory of meaning. When I first got to know his work almost twenty years ago, I encountered words, so-called protonyms, such as MIPSEL, QUIX, FLOGO, or—my favorite—SMORP. Fricke invented them under the umbrella of The Word Company, which he founded in 1994, and offered them for sale complete with detailed business conditions ...”
—Catalogue text, exhibition ➚ Big Ideas, 2014 [Bedeutungslabor.com]
Kirsten Johannsen

Ten Thousand Steps

“Since installing a ten-thousand-steps app, I have taken a daily walk through my neighborhood and beyond. So Adib Fricke’s poster installation goes well with the start of my walking career. This art project deals with the functioning of the human brain and combines this with aesthetic perception ...”
—Catalogue text, project ➚ Your Brain is Your Brain, 2013 [Bedeutungslabor.com]
Knut Ebeling

King of Corpus—The Artist as Philologist

“... The digital revolution has given rise to some novel yet concealed forms of parlance. Novel because they more fundamentally link semantics and grammar to technological procedures and possibilities than has been the case with systems of writing up to now. Concealed because their upheavals generally take place below the level of spoken language, where we can hardly see them ...”
—Book project A Gorilla in a Mirror, 2008
Gerrit Gohlke

Now I can tell where y’all have been

“Take a look at yourself. You are responding to a reflex in speaking with your search engine. It is a mixture of hunting instinct and stuttering. You revert to the early days of language acquisition. No longer do you think in full sentences, but rather search for a decisive word of condensed desires. In your semi-conscious, outcome-oriented haste, you use meaningless formulations, transforming complicated wishes, hopes and desires into keyword entries. ...”
—Catalogue text, project Jam from Mexico, 2003
Harald Fricke / Adib Fricke

Interview on QUOBO

HF: Then the words stand for the self-referential nature of the art business?
AF: No, they stand for The Word Company. And to get to The Word Company, you need words ...
—Catalogue contribution for QUOBO, 2000
Adib Fricke

Keywords Make the World Go Round

On parrots and search terms which have been used by those visiting The Word Company via requests to search engines
Peter Nisbet

In the Company of Words

“... These modest but persistent interventions into our communications system seem designed to annoy and to please, combining a wry irony and a naive fondness for the potential beauty of the new word. ...”
—Accompanying text, exhibition Words to Watch, 1999
Adib Fricke

ONTOM—Licence Agreement with the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig

“On behalf of the user the author is to develop ... a meaningless new word creation (protonym) ... to be used as the title for the opening exhibit of the ‘Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig’ ... ”
—Exibition ONTOM, 1998
Adib Fricke

Words You Can Buy

General Terms and Conditions of Business of The Word Company, Version 2.0
Christine Fuchs

Words they don’t teach you at school

“The law is not in the position to grasp this art [with words] in legal terms—less because it does not want to, than because it cannot with present legal criteria.”
Bojana Pejic

In the Beginning Was the Protonym

“Adib Fricke started to build up his Gesamtwortwerk with a full awareness that he, as a (visual) artist involved in wording, operates on a risky—and therefore exciting—bridge between life and art: between a realm of the Symbolic, the place where we are in language, and art, the terrain essentially populated with pictures and governed by the order of the visual ...”
—Essay about The Word Company, 1996
Joachim Schmid

Words, Art and Property

XYZ—the thing needs a name. Naming, speaking, writing and reading makes the difference between an ant-hill and a society that calls a tree tree and a sticky substance of a certain shape Snickers. When the baby says »da-da«, the parents are happy; and now the only thing left to learn is what is done, what isn't and who owns what...
—Introduction to The Word Company, 1994