PRINT October 1991


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 world’s wealthier countries are becoming ever more porous to migrations from the third world. Historically we tend to think of invasions as attempts to destroy an existing power structure and replace it with a new one. Surely the gradual, nonviolent invasion now going on is different: the multitudes infiltrating Europe and the U.S. want not to subvert the existing order of things but to share the wealth of what they seem to perceive, at least from a distance, as a sort of garden of delights. Yet though most of us would probably argue for democracy over other political systems, it is also true that European and American capitalism has severe limitations of its own. America, for example, has great difficulty in providing all its people with housing a focus of this issue of Artforum. And though the changes, both slow and sudden, that we now confront are sometimes taken to prove the superiority of Western ways, we should also be asking what we have done to instigate them.

As Asians, Central and South Americans, Africans, and even Albanians flood into the West, it is impossible to pretend that our societies will not change. What are the meanings of these global shifts, and how will they affect our cultural values and our understanding of ourselves and others? The first place to look at is our nearest border, the home, the archetypal locus of protection. In this issue writers and artists consider the image of the home from a variety of perspectives, trying to explore both the reassurance it provides and the longing it conceals.

Ida Panicelli