PRINT March 1991


THE MORE REPRESENTATIONS OCCUPY the world, the more the world eludes representation. Trying to evoke the world, to make a subject of it, to catch it by the tail thematically or just evocatively—by means other than representation—has become a mark of ambition in contemporary art. Now more than ever, Piero Manzoni’s Base del mondo (Base of the world, 1961), the inverted outdoor pedestal that, at a stroke, makes sculpture of the whole planet, looks like a philosophical milestone of art.

Clever strategies abound for embroiling the world in art and vice versa, but they too often end in brittle topicality or media-conscious, psychopolitical mannerism: think of the work of Hans Haacke, for example, or that of John Baldessari or Ashley Bickerton. Perhaps the real difficulty is that, even as we feel (and ever more keenly) the force of the idea that all life on earth is part of one system, we also

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