Edit deAk

  • A Light Opportunity

    TO TELL THE TRUTH, THIS ISSUE BEGAN with editorial discussions about the failure of the recent spate of big international shows to intelligently meet the development of contemporary art, and about their tendency instead to carelessly throw all “the names” together in an expensive but cheap hanging spectacle of so-called international pluralism, willy nilly, irrespective of individual concerns, differences, and achievements. The American shows have failed because of naiveté, superficiality, and too passive a relation to the hypes of the mass media, while the European exhibitions, almost exclusively


    IF YOU WANT TO REPRESENT the ’70s you can do it for a few hundred dollars with artist’s books. In the ’70s all you needed was a subway token to see graffiti.


    The ’80s need criticism. Five years ago no one read. Now one frantically scans all the frantic magazines. But if you just want to read your name, forget it. Anybody can read their name. So what’s the big deal. It’s like investing major thinking in the gimmicks of door policies. That is like just looking for your name. Don’t forget that there are phenomenal things, special effects, and


    CULTURE IS THE MOST fertilized substance. It does nothing but ferment its own substance for milleniums. It is the best flammable stuff along with the soul, the spirit, the winged breath of air, the O2 particle that gives oxygen to the fire of culture. Where time is rhythm it is almost impossible not to be spun by words and turns of phrases, and even more by the person who reveals them by uttering them in one’s presence for the first time—not to mention engraving them in one’s mind by repetition. "Language itself is a gamble. A roll of dice. The way you formulate your sentence, the words you pick

  • Bruce Davidson

    Art World goes to Europe. Art world goes to so-called ethnic cultures. They’re both pseudo-events and encourage separations. Rather than embracing everything together it is still the view of the “other.” Who is the “other” in a subway? It’s obviously the photographer, obviously Bruce Davidson. I find it curious that a transportation system is used as a container for “types”. When you have journalist tendencies but you’re also a self-appointed arty “humanitarian,” you become a paparazzo of the underdog, invading the private sector, rather than documenting the homegrown performances of the

  • Dondi White

    Totally unlike Bruce Davidson, with his ethnocratic descent into the subway, and defying as well the myopic delight of current supporters of graffiti as being merely ethnic, Dondi White informs us that graffiti culture is a state of mind. In his affectionate depictions of personages, motifs, moods, styles, and activities of kids who claim the subways, streets, and parks as theirs—the breakers, the graffiti writers, the gangs, the DJs, and the spray masters—we find the ethos of the Beat Boys.

    In our society, where the individual is supposed to be the ittiest treasure, there is still no provision

  • Keith Haring

    A new mythology is possible in the Space Age. where we will again have heroes and villains, as regards intentions towards this planet. I feel that the future of writing is in Space, not Time.

    —William S. Burroughs

    Keith Haring's creatures, human and not, are basically units, quanta in a pictographic language. After his radiant baby and barking dog images appeared all over the city, Haring began to evolve more complex compositions, scenes with tiers of massed, animated outline figures brandishing, grappling, metamorphosing. Human and animal figures and alien epiphanies joined with snakes who,

  • John Ahearn

    John Ahearn was not trained in sculpture. Schooled in painting, he switched to filmmaking; working on monster movies he became involved in designing the creatures’ faces, and also in casting his actors’ faces as an intermediate stage in the preparation of makeup. He enjoyed the process of sculpture-making more than filmmaking, and moulded his first series of public castings in the South Bronx in the prominent display window of the Fashion Moda gallery. Garish painting and bravura expressions reveal the theatricalized, carnival atmosphere of these early sessions. In time, the work fine-tuned

  • Edward Ruscha

    Lemmy Caution passes by a slot machine. He drops in change where a sign says, “Place coin here.” Suddenly out shoots a card on which is printed, “Thank you.” Dumbfounded, he flings the card in the air.

    The scene is from Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, a movie that stresses language as a system of social control and the way idiosyncratic images resist the computer because the computer programs out all traces of ambiguity, valorizing communication as an end in itself. Poetic visions as the refugees of homo sapiens become the radical opponents to this technocracy.

    Ed Ruscha’s work freezes fragments of

  • Stalling Art

    Our heroes after a long and strenuous voyage through sinister valleys and dark forests finally arrive in the English Garden, and at the gate of a splendid palace. At least such a subtitle reflects our desire for a clear order and a quiet atmosphere.

    —Rudi Fuchs artistic director of Documenta 7

    OUR MERCEDES-BENZES may have driven at incalculable speeds down autobahns past sinister valleys and dark forests to a refuge from profuse chaos, but our voyage finds neither English Garden nor splendid palace—just the remnants of them, displaced, in the parks and palaces that are, as usual, the sites for

  • A Chameleon in a State of Grace: Francesco Clemente

    More truth/more intelligence/ha ha

    More future/more laughs/more culture . . .

    I need more than an ordinary grind

    And the more I think the more I need

    More cars/I’ll take more money/more champagne

    I can’t forget my brain

    —Iggy Pop

    All italicized quotes in parentheses are from Oscar Wilde's discussion of Christ as a supreme romantic type in De Profundis.

    NASCENT STILL IN ITS native lands, yet already flourishing as export, imagism is not like nationalist movements we have known before. One of the most intriguing factors about imagism is that its meaning and quality intend to refer to the visual/cultural

  • Copy

    A good product has the ability to set forth true and false propositions. If someone comes on with only what’s true, it’s very boring, because nobody has that much truth in them.

    —Iggy Pop

    WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE MASS of publishing experimentation makes “freedom of the press” a totally archaic slogan. The press is free as long as you can afford the rental of its accessible hardware. We are back to the same situation that existed before: if everyone makes their own press, it becomes no more culturally authoritative than one’s family photo album or a tourist slide-show. But the notion of The Press

  • Peter Campus

    The careful thoughtfulness that characterizes Peter Campus’s work lies at the very base of the innate possibilities of his medium. Each successive Campus exhibitions can be seen as another step in the process of adjusting and refining the elements of his electronic projections. Although each element is a richly laden term in itself, Campus’s technologically complex participatory/figurative installations become a highly interdependent system. For example, sharpening the projected video picture means constricting the size of the image, which in turn changes the scale of the spatial scheme, which

  • Frank Young

    The episode in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which Richard Dreyfus, on an uncontrollable impulse, shapes and molds his plate of mashed potatoes into a maquette of the alien landing site, contains an element of jovial satire on the art world. The scene was an immaculate middle-American family dinner till Dad, through playing with his food, was instantly transformed into an outcast and a metaphor for the artist. Under the spell of an internal, unexplainable image, his need actually to visualize it became so obsessive that his table manners—a sign of his social conventionality—were

  • Robert Heinecken

    Robert Heinecken’s show consists of innumerable Polaroids grouped on cardboard with pencil-written texts. Right inside the door he has posted a quasi-advertisement, a predominantly textual piece leaning heavily on words like “interesting,” “increase your pleasure,” “you will achieve,” and of course, “new, improved”—advertising hype about how to draw with a Polaroid. This kind of post-modernist littering with ideas is really dated: the cheerful entrepreneur with a chip on his shoulder. But the work describes Heinecken’s Polaroid adventure—he manipulates the Polaroids by squeezing the emulsion à

  • Dale Henry

    My psyche involuntarily lit up when I read the titles of Dale Henry’s works, words like Cadmium Vermilion (Barium) Red. Color names have a strange charisma, and some of that sensation carried over to the pieces themselves. “How very curious it is, how very bizarre,” I mumbled, after Ionesco’s Bald Soprano, as I sized up one of his interior arrangements: a stretched canvas, a table and chair, all drenched in pure red monochrome against the black floor and white wall. It had a curious, bizarre and bald aspect to it, at first impression. The rest is that very Dale Henry tour de force of fragmented,

  • Ed Ruscha

    One of the curious features of Ed Ruscha’s books is that in many cases the titles coincide with the moment of their conception, and precede their making on any level. Even in light of this, his drawings (1974–77) are somewhat bewildering, as they are the very titles of themselves before, during and after their execution. Similar to Bob Wilson’s scavenging of the environment (including T.V. and the papers) for lines to be used in his plays and much resembling Ruscha’s own photos, the “title” phrases are like snaps of expressions lifted from around him. As such, they are both unpretentious (

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    Ruscha’s show, working in the arena of our sensory hierarchies, is not the only one reviewed here which deals with the conflict between the verbal or rational, and the evocative or intuitive, components of the brain. Dennis Oppenheim zeroes in on the same issue as the theme of his installation Well. In a social sense, language is one of the ways we control the world, but it is also the mode of communication most used to rule us. This paradox is also true in a personal sense: language liberates, but it binds; it is a trap. And indeed, while the audio part of Well argues against the fragmenting,

  • Hanne Darboven

    To tune in to Hanne Darboven’s work we must discard Oppenheim’s geometric hardware bulging with emotions, forget his ethical agonizing over the slow depletion of his potential through each formalized expression of it, and turn instead to a brand of philosophy particular to women—one with a notion of existence as something there and naturally available. It is here that Darboven’s principle of compulsive writing, counting and copying is voiced: “By doing it, it becomes not more and more, because it is already there, but clearer and clearer.” It is at the opposite end of the scale from Oppenheim’s

  • Vito Acconci

    A promotional catalogue recently published by Jane Crawford on art performances and projects includes gemlike paragraphs written by the artists about their own work. Vito Acconci describes his plans as “. . . installations designed to fit a specific physical space that, then is tied into an over all geographical/historical/political space that, in turn, becomes the occasion for revealing myself and my (cultural) origins as an instigator.” Despite my general distrust of intent as a valid measure of any sort of product, Acconci’s recent Clocktower installation Cry, Baby! is so faithful a manifestation

  • Peter Beard

    The glamor and riches of Peter Beard’s social milieu help to generate the deservedly lavish attention paid to him and his work. It was launched long ago innocently enough as a lifestyle and photo romance in the white Africana tradition, but crossed paths with the most wretched samples of ecological disasters that the modern era and population density have inflicted on Africa. Considering the serious and exclamatory nature of his subject matter, “lavish” seems altogether the wrong kind of attention to pay his work.

    “The Last of the Game” falls prey to overzealous designing. From the elephant