Ida Panicelli

  • Pat Steir

    Earth, water, and air are the principal themes in these eleven paintings by Pat Steir, most of which were begun over the past three years and completed last winter. Their mood is somber: They are meditations on the transience of natural phenomena (Bay of Mumbai, 2001–2002; Sand, 1998–99), the passing of time (Winter Sky, 2000–2002), and the fragility of life (Hungry Ghost, 2000-2002). Steir achieves her abstraction by the strict observance of procedural rules regarding palette, methods of paint application, and so on—something that’s been important to her since her early conceptual period

  • “Serpentology Drawings”

    In Indian cosmogony, the serpent is assigned a variety of sometimes contradictory symbolic roles. According to Vedic legend, it is the first creature: Before the origin of the world, Vishnu sleeps stretched out on a cushion of rolled-up snake coils, floating in the cosmic ocean. In Tantrism, it is the link between earth and universe: Cosmic energy resides in the human body at the base of the spine, like a coiled and sleeping serpent, and unwinds toward the crown of the head on awakening (a result of meditation). It is the potential from which all manifestations come, the reservoir of all latencies,

  • “From India: Contemporary Anonymous Tantra Paintings on Paper”

    An exquisite show: nineteen small, untitled paintings on paper by anonymous artists in the Indian state of Rajasthan, created between 1989 and 1999. Yet these works are much more “ancient” than their dates allow. Revisited from generation to generation, the images interpret traditional iconographic themes that have been appearing in Hindu tantric texts since the seventeenth century. The goal of tantra is to allow the practitioner to reach higher levels of consciousness, and finally enlightenment, through postures (asanas), gestures (mudras), mantras, breathing techniques, visualization, and

  • Mariko Mori

    Purification, initiation, and illumination: In the Buddhist tradition, these are the three steps to enlightenment. They are also the subject—rarely tackled in art with such clarity—of Mariko Mori’s multimedia installation at the Fondazione Prada. Laid out in three rooms, the entire exhibition is pervaded by a sense of immateriality. In Enlightenment Capsule, 1998, a pastel-petaled lotus flower appears to float, illuminated from above, in a transparent oval capsule. The open lotus flower, hovering impalpably in the void, serves as a metaphor for an awakening of the soul.

    Mori translates the

  • A Conversation

    Ida Panicelli is currently the artistic director of the Centro per L'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, in Prato, Italy, and a contributing editor to Artforum. She served as editor from March 1988 to June 1992.

    ALESSANDRA MAMMÍ: Your arrival at Artforum, in 1988, coincided with a crisis in what people in Europe had been calling “the light ’80s.” At the end of the decade the idea of lightness, of decorative pleasure, of a free, sometimes unthinking use of the art of the past was called in question. It was just at this moment that you took over as the magazine’s editor. What did you find, and what

  • Ida Panicelli

    No one celebrates the first of May any more, East or West. But is there anyone who misses it? Surely yes. I’m not talking about the propaganda, the military parades in Red Square, though there must even be people who miss those. I’m talking about May 1 as the symbol of a sociopolitical ideal that seems to have vanished, dissolved.

    In this month’s “Secret Vices” column, Marco Giusti explores the intellectual, esthetic, and moral void in which the European left is wandering after the collapse of the Marxist regimes. The crisis of European intellectuals today is palpable: deprived of the ideological


    Along the Edge

    “To insist, to repeat, and to continue seem the only ways to sustain the weight of a void that no one expects to fill.” So Giulio Paolini wrote in 1991. The sentence’s focus, it seems to me, is less the active verbs that start it off than the void that the artist takes on at its center. Looking at Paolini’s work, and reading his writings, I always have the sensation of moving with him as if along the edge of a well, around an emptiness that he has shown me. Now, in response to my suggestion that he write an artist’s statement for Artforum, he has agreed on the condition that I add

  • Ida Panicelli

    WE ALL SAW how inventively the art business of the ’80s fetishized the object as a commodity, taking a familiar process, and familiar prices, to ever more airy heights. We now are witnessing what may in part be a reaction: a new attention to the artist as subject, as the central agent in the activity of art, the driving force in the entire system. Yet how can we reclaim the artist as the art world’s key protagonist without falling into a regressive form of subjectivity, the artist-genius syndrome? And given this danger, should the artist accentuate his or her presence or practice a sort of

  • Ida Panicelli

    In this issue of Artforum we consider the problem of representation, focusing on the human body as the pivotal element in an intricate system of signs that must be taken into account each time we try to articulate the complexity of our reality. A sort of social allegory provides a larger frame for Patrick Faigenbaum’s photographs of the Italian nobility. In these works, Faigenbaum investigates the possibility of linking spaces and people in a chain of signs that speaks mostly of their connecting borders, so that the end of one “thing” touches the beginning ofthe next. Generations, places, and

  • Ida Panicelli

    WE’RE FINALLY HERE: 1992. Let the party begin.

    The 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of America has fascinated both sides of the Atlantic, almost as though we expected to look in the mirror and see a different face, or at any rate a face with a different history. The display of anything and everything connected to Columbus and his fateful voyage will last out the year, but Washington, D.C., hasn’t even bothered to wait for January 1: it began its ceremonies in October with the “Circa 1492” exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. In this issue, Homi K. Bhabha discusses the difficulties a

  • Ida Panicelli

    As I write, the U.S. Senate, by a large majority, has just passed another Jesse Helms spending-bill amendment, this one worded to bar the National Endowment for the Arts from funding work that depicts “sexual or excretory activities or organs” in an “offensive way.” The amendment isn’t law yet—the House of Representatives has still to vote on it, and may revise or reject it. But in the Senate, clearly, conservatives have scored another point in their campaign to impose their own fixed ethical codes on art.

    Racial, moral, and religious issues are always open to cynical exploitation by politicians,

  • Ida Panicelli

    AS WE GO TO PRESS, in the last days of August, the enormous events in the USSR are redrawing the world’s political and social geography. The consequences will be unfolding for years, and are unpredictable only a very short step into the future. At this writing, however, it seems possible and even likely that the Soviet Union will not ultimately survive the crumbling of Communism. As the Iron Curtain is melting, the western Soviet republics are looking to become independent nations in a reconstituted Europe.

    In a parallel development—a further challenge to the West—the borders of the

  • Editor’s Letter

    Is there a life after post-Modernism? We sense that a new discourse is in the making. But responding to the vast body of information and ideas now emerging about non-European-derived cultures, and about subjects that until recently had little or no access to the so-called mainstream of art, is a difficult task. It demands that we question not only the dichotomies of center and periphery, colonizer and colonized, but finally identity itself.

    In this issue Robert Farris Thompson, in his analysis of the current exhibition “Africa Explores,” reclaims the black and Latino influences in Modernism, and


    ROBERT YARBER TOUCHES an embarrassing subject in his photographic sequence A Rare Kind of Dread. As Roland Barthes asserts in his book Fragments d’u n discours amoureux (Fragments of a lover’s discourse), love’s sentimentality has been discredited by modern opinion, leaving the amorous subject alone and exposed: “By a reversal of values . . . it is this sentimentality which today constitute’s love’s obscenity.”

    Yarber, like Barthes, will not let us escape the uncomfortable voyeurism of witnessing the most trite expression of love’s sentimentality—the the powerful transgression of the obscene. We


    THE ANCIENT DREAM OF transcending both the physical and the symbolic limitations imposed on us by gravity—a dream expressed in the myth of Icarus—has often appeared in Anselm Kiefer’s iconography/ cosmography. The symbolic icons of the wing, the palette, the fire, and the snake/angel, in, works such as Ikarus—märkischer Sand (Icarus—Mark sand, 1981) and Die Ordnung der Engel (The order of the angels, 1983–84), testify to the inextricable rapport Kiefer sees between historical events and celestial metaphysics. In Kiefer’s attempt to view the vicissitudes of history from a privileged artistic


    Voice: What for each of us is inevitable?

    Yudhishthira: Happpiness.

    “OUR YOUTH IS OVER,” declares Yudhishthira, as, with reluctance, he accepts Krishna’s request that he become the King of Kings. And as the eldest of the Pandavas brothers assumes his adult responsibility, Peter Brook’s Mahabharata switches from the calm, legendary tone befitting the childhood of humankind to the chaotic roar of passion, desire, power hunger, and trickery that inevitably accompanies the development of an articulated society. The Mahabharata is a vast cosmogony that pits humans and gods in a worldly conflict between


    That art is non-conceptual in character seems to me self-evident; for what makes possible a work of art is not simply a good translation of ideas, but the capability of “somehow” betraying those ideas.

    —Leonel Moura

    AT FIRST GLANCE, WE MAY think Leonel Moura’s art is conceptual, that it is simply a good translation of ideas into the realm of the visual. On deeper examination, we find his “betrayals,” as he takes into account both the field of language and the field of icons, but ultimately escapes the self-referentialism of both. In Moura’s manipulations of images and words, objectivity and

  • ...Captions

    ON A DOZEN PAGES of this issue of Artforum we have reproduced black and white photographs of artworks from the epochal year 1968. These images, these slices of time and history, inspire a poignancy oddly double-edged. Like the year 1848 so often mentioned in connection with it, 1968 has cast a long shadow of intense expectations and painful disappointments.

    It was a year of endings and beginnings. The generation that was coming of age was born after World War II. These young men and women, whether invigorated by the relative comforts of the ’50s and ’60s, covetous of them, or suspicious of them,


    HAVING TAKEN ON the position of editor, I imagine this magazine as a house, a house large enough to accommodate the ideas and images of all those who participate in the making of contemporary art. Like a house, Artforum has its foundation—the awareness of the past; its frame and walls—the intersections of the present; its doors and windows (even a skylight or two)—the view toward the future. And like a house, Artforum has been built—and continues to stand—through a collaboration among many different kinds of people, with each individual playing an indispensable role. Still, with all this work