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CLOSE-UP: NORTHERN LIGHT

Philippe Parreno, Speaking to the Penguins, 2007, color silver print, 59 1/8 x 89 3/8".

WHEN ARTFORUM WAS BEING BORN some fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for artists themselves to write. “Before he became a painter,” Lucy Lippard explained in 1970, “[Lawrence] Weiner was a poet. He no longer writes, but his book, Statements, published by Seth Siegelaub in 1968, presents his work in a form generally associated with poetry––a single phrase per page, with blank facing page, no punctuation, and such eccentric, nonhyphenated word breaks as f/rom, st/andard, pressur/e.” These lines anchored an essay titled “Art Within the Arctic Circle,” which she included in her book Changing the next year.*

Writing includes all the changing ideas, media, directions, hotels, sheets of paper, tracks. Poetry gave way to statements; some artists developed rhetorics that would let them joust with the art critics and win. Then came the October years, when critics went into battle as

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