PRINT February 1988


Ingrid Sischy

This is a thank-you note.

First to you, the reader. I want to say something about what the reader can mean to an editor or writer. And the best way I know how to express this is to write from my own experience. A little over eight years ago I wrote my first letter to the reader of Artforum. I wrote it sitting up in bed at around three in the morning. I had been trying since about seven o’clock the night before but the desire to write something brilliant and worthy of Artforum and the people who had given me the privilege of this job, just froze me. I ate, I smoked, I blamed the cats, the noise of the tenants coming in the front door of the building which could be heard if you were looking hard enough for something to irritate you. The time went wherever time goes when we sabotage ourselves with the weight of that blank piece of paper. Sleepiness came in from its corner of the boxing ring and won. I was down, flat, no competition. In bed—but with a writing pad and someone I loved. The three of us started again, I forgot about sounding Artforumy—too late for that, since, as far as I was concerned, it was already all over and another editor would need to be hired. What happened next was the sleepwriting version of sleepwalking, the letter to you wrote me. And pulling me along and helping me was my partner beside me but also my partner without a face—the reader. Thank you both.

I’m very serious when I write that a reader can help you get the courage to do what you feel must be done. That sense that you can’t let them down can propel you in so many ways, can make you braver than you really feel, and in fact despite how abstract the relationship with a collective readership is, it can start to stand for something that you have to try to live up to. Obviously an editor cannot do this work alone, in fact cannot do it at all without something to give the reader; and in this art magazine that something is words and pictures. In these years I have had the honor of working with writers and artists who have shown me what it is to be honest, to be brave, to be dedicated to art and to criticism. Thank you. And the articles quite simply couldn’t have made it to the printed page without a staff to get them there correctly and beautifully. More specifically, I couldn’t have done my part without a few individuals whose thoroughness, generosity of ideas, and plain hard work build each issue that comes out. Thank you.

And all of us without a publisher to believe in the project of putting this magazine out into the world each month (except for July and August and I hope they keep it this way), without that person or people who back the crazy ideas and who stand by you, would be up the creek. I have had the opposite experience that most editors have with publishers—this has been a homegrown situation of continual support, friendship, counsel, indulgence. Thank you.

I am writing this letter because this is the last issue of Artforum that will come out under my editorship. The gift that the work of doing it has given me tells me two things. One: that you have to follow the string as it unwinds from inside you, even when you don’t know where it is taking you. Two: to honor and stand by my word—that no one owns this seat. It is not a throne, it is a swivel chair—made for more than one view.

Ingrid Sischy