jay rechsteiner

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Link in-between – an exploration of binary oppositions within two different pieces of work

I am interested in the exploration of binary contrasts / opposites within pairs juxtaposed pieces of work. The contrasts are not necessarily apparent at first glance as they can be found in minor aspects of the works. The definition of links between such contrasts aids to comprehend the overarching system / structure.

The public is confronted with juxtaposed pieces of work and is invited to analyse the pairs and find binary oppositions within. Every piece I present has been thoroughly developed which is essential for this project as I do not share the belief that everything is art. The conceptual, philosophical, political quality of an art work’s content or / and the skills involved in its creation are pivotal in art. Juxtaposing two different pieces of non- art or a piece of art with a piece of non-art is not an option to me except in the case of questioning and/ or ridiculing of the nature of art in general or as a critical intervention from which I want to refrain.

Background info

A binary opposition is a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. In structuralism *, a binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language. It is a theoretical paradigm positing that elements and aspects of human culture need to be analyzed and understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure. I, however, think that this is also possible by comparing opposites / contrasts of aspects within two juxtaposed pieces of art work (e.g. subject A & B, idea A & form C) as everything is linked to a ‘super’ system and is therefore a representation of it. This helps to uncover the structures that underlie works of art (critical theory). Note that for an opposition to be binary, the opposing aspect / contrast (subject within, concept, movement, abstract notion etc.) must be mutually exclusive which basically means that membership in one class rules out membership in another.

According to Simon Blackburn structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations.” The relationships between the two subjects/objects (links between contrasts) are not contradictory but structural and complementary. In terms of language Saussure demonstrated that a sign's meaning is derived from its context (syntagmatic dimension) and the group (paradigm) to which it belongs. An example of this is that one cannot conceive of 'good' if we do not understand 'evil'. (Lacey, N 2000, Narrative and Genre, p. 65, Palgrave, New York)

For more info re structuralism, critical theory, binary opposites etc. refer to the following website:


* Structuralism is a method of interpretation and analysis of aspects of human cognition, behaviour, culture, and experience, which focuses on relationships of contrast between elements in a conceptual system.

(Oxford Dictionaries: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/structuralism)

==> Doctrine that structure is more important than function.


Barking dog – London Bridge Station at 5 in the morning Contrasts:

Important facts

Examples of pairings


List of works

work #1: 'de-potted' plant on shelf vs orange square

dead plant and yellow, art by Jay Rechsteiner

wall installation work #2: adaption: London Bridge Station vs T-Bone in the park (click on image to view more)

London Bridge station and T-Bone, photograph by Jay Rechsteiner
video installation (two projections)

work #3: Gatwick Airport vs woman at wedding with MDF face

Gatwick Airport and woman
acrylic photo print (177 cm x 64 cm x 0.5cm)

work #4: chocolate politics

installation chocolate by Jay Rechsteiner

two installations consisting of:

  1. Nothing but chocolate
  2. political science

The installations work independently as well. However, in the context of In-between link I have decided to pair them.

binary oppositions:

  1. books - letters: The letters in the left in installation interact with the audience whereas the books are silent
  2. TV - chocolate wall: The TV interacts whereas the chocolate wall is silent and merely complimentary to the installation



Copyright © 2015, Jay Rechsteiner. All Rights Reserved.