New York

Pistoletto

A more blatant manipulation of the viewer as the actor in a visual trick is apparent in Pistoletto’s work. His use of polished steel surfaces for his images allows one to see one’s own mirror reflection as an observer of the vignettes enacted by the photo-silkscreened figures. One becomes a double voyeur, peering into the picture and looking back out to confront oneself looking in. The imagery attached to the surface serves as the set for one’s own performance. In Cage-Environment, for example, one is faced by a group of reflective surfaces divided by printed bars. Both the viewer and the room behind are mirrored inside the cage. Space is distorted as a real plant in the gallery situates itself inside the depiction of a jaguar in a cage and the reflection of one painting appears as part of the imagery of another. Of course, as one moves in front the scene shifts and one can create endless fictions merely by changing one’s viewpoint—all of which serves as a punning on reality in which the viewer is both the source and the victim of the jokes. The game is in the spectator’s literal completion of the work. But once one enters into the picture, the story is already over.

Susan Heinemann