View of “Annie Besant,” 2015–16.

View of “Annie Besant,” 2015–16.

Annie Besant

Stony Island Arts Bank

View of “Annie Besant,” 2015–16.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev stages unorthodox discussions about art and its place in the world. Consider the fact that she organized last year’s Istanbul Biennial around the notion of the “thought form,” a concept that was mostly sidestepped by the critics who attended the show. They can be forgiven. After all, this esoteric term coined by members of the Theosophical movement in the late nineteenth century doesn’t figure in the critical vocabularies we learn in graduate school, unless perhaps we are studying comparative religion. But however uninformed or skeptical of it we may be today, theosophy held considerable sway a century ago, when many thousands of people signed on to meditate and reform society through a new model of spirituality. The movement counted among its ranks a number of artists, including Kandinsky, who embraced the power of thought forms as their painting grew

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2016 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.