Critics’ Picks

View of “Sam Pulitzer,” 2012.


Sam Pulitzer

Fondazione Pastificio Cerere
Via degli Ausoni, 7
September 18 - November 7

A scattered lot of black vinyl signs stand out against the white walls of the exhibition space of the Fondazione Pastificio Cerere in Rome. Some feature universally recognizable symbols: moons, towers, bats, stars, snakes, and crystal balls. Other symbols come from specific creative niches or obscure realms of graphic design. A few are simply symbols derived from marketing campaigns. Sam Pulitzer manipulates the viewer with these glyphs, which can lead viewers to think that they understand the logic of these combinations, but the images are, in reality, puzzles. If it is true that most human communication is done through code, Pulitzer upsets these codes and invents others that blur distinctions between between language and symbolic graphics. However, these signs, even though they reside in the context of a space dedicated to art, are not removed from what happens in the world outside. In fact, they gain traction, texture, and depth from their contextual relationship with the city of Rome and with consumerism at large, and Pulitzer’s art is accordingly characterized by a continuous flow of merging styles and tendencies. In a city where alternative cultures dissolve, one into another, only to reappear in unexpected forms, his works remind us of the liminal phase between.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.