The Other Side of the Words

The Other Side of the Words (2019)

The Other Side of the Words is a collaborative project by Mike Dodd and Steve Baker. It was included in the exhibition Cley 19: Borderlines, curated by Dyad Creative in the 14-century church of St Margaret, Cley, in the summer of 2019. Made while Mike and I were living on opposite sides of the Channel, at a time when there was much fraught political talk of frictionless borders, the installation drew on a body of photographs we had each made showing the backs of public signs in numerous countries on three continents. It was a loose exploration of the idea that public signs, like borderlines, are a means of shaping human experience and expectations of urban space. They mark one of many borders between the understood and the uncertain, and between compliance and the scope for creative disobedience. The title and to some extent the project itself draw on the poet W.S. Graham’s wider interest in what happens “on the other side of the words,” or “the other side of language,” or “behind the alphabet.” The project is a quiet invitation to think about the negotiation of space without regard for the ways that language is routinely used to shape and to regulate it.