“Ibid.” is the abbreviation of the Latin word ibidem, meaning “in the same place,” but this show of works by 17 artists, located in 10 cathedrallike, quite brutal garages belonging to a disused 19th-century brewery, was not in the same place as its predecessor, a show of the same name which was held a year ago in a likewise abandoned, almost preindustrial old building once used for the production of linseed oil. The choice of name, however, made clear the intertextual relationship not only between the works of art on display but between the two exhibitions. “Ibid.” pointed back to P.S. 1’s inaugural show, “Rooms,” in New York in 1976, whose function as paradigm could not be disregarded—particularly when one contributor to “Rooms” was included in each of the “Ibid.” shows, last year Richard Nonas, this year Susan Weil.

“Rooms” was marked, as Rosalind Krauss has pointed out, by an interest in the type of uncoded signs that constitute “trace character,” or “index,” within a specific site. The driving force underlying this interest was the dream of capturing the presence of the building and forcing it into the field of the work within it. Linked to this dream was the hope of suggesting, through careful maneuvers, the language of crumbling brick and corroded girders, and by extension the Ur-language of matter. It may have been the nostalgic trap of this “Heideggerian hope,” as Jacques Derrida would call it, that made the contributors to the second edition of the “Ibid.” project shift the emphasis slightly. An installation by Jan Håfström, one of the initiators of “Ibid.,” was a key work in this respect. Along a third of the hundred-foot-long wall of his space extended a black painting whose system of individually painted squares related structurally to the bricks in the wall. Leaning against the opposite wall, surrounded by fragmentary brickwork that appeared both to belong to and to disengage from the building, stood another long painting, this one gray black. It was supported by a series of thin staffs placed a foot apart from each other, which divided it into narrow spaces and gave it the character of a fence. The installation’s interest in environment and context were obvious, yet they became less significant as one looked at the work, when words painted on the wall—“Barricade,” “The Communards,” “La Commune de Paris”—imparted an entirely new character to these formally postminimal works. Håfström grafted history painting saturated with meaning onto his postminimal stock, resulting in a remarkable abstract installation about the barricades of the Paris Commune and the narrow last room of the executed Communards.

The interest in grafting served as a uniting link among the superficially heterogeneous contributors to “Ibid.” to an even greater extent than the fascination with contextual signs. To be more precise, the work here joined an intensely felt European heritage to the American tradition as it appears from this horizon. Despite their strictly minimal form, Håkan Rehnberg’s objects of oil and wax on iron are a sort of abstract embodiment of Greek myth, its spatial and textual structures alone remaining. A related attitude is displayed in Lars Nilsson’s canvases and in Johan Scott’s wax paintings on aeruginous copper.

These artists, along with such other exhibitors as Bård Breivik, Björn Lövin, and Sivert Lindblom, employ a minimal or postminimal grafting stock. The most provocative grafting operation, however, occurred in a post-Modernist project: in Ola Billgren’s eight large square paintings the American, often mass-culture-oriented, deconstructivist practice was united with an investigation into the textual character of the European Romantic and Symbolist painterly tradition. A disinterested heat emanated from this work in the rhetorical field of painting.

Lars Nittve

Translated from the Swedish by Lars-Håkan Svensson.