Invited to contribute to this special issue of esse, I set myself a few constraints: to work from images, to introduce artists with whom I am engaged in meaningful dialogues and to respond to the conditions of this invitation, namely, a small-run, specialized, and subsidized print publication. In short, I would reflect on the specificities of this form and medium at this strange moment, after repeated prophecies of the imminent demise of both print and subsidies, when art publications’ necessary claims of dissemination are hemmed in by niche-market determinism and tinged with luxury status.
I decided to think anew the contemporary reality of a print periodical by thinking through recent projects by three artists: Belgrade-born Nashville resident Vesna Pavlović, Christodoulos Panayiotou from Cyprus and the Vancouverite Judy Radul.
In Vesna Pavlović’s photograph of a room at the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade, movie tins ominously rise in columns to fill a non-descript storage space, leaving a path barely wide enough for anyone to enter — images turned architecture. Media massified: the mind-numbing power of multitude, neatly rolled, stacked, and contained in this archive of former Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito’s rule. What matters here is neither the specificity of this or that event nor the identity of the persons recorded; the tins produce an architecture that materializes state propaganda, giving it psychological weight, positioning us outside while showing the single, narrow path to inclusion. In Christodoulos Panayiotou’s installation Operation Serenade (2012), neatly taped and rolled red carpets are strategically placed in a room, their suggestive form exploiting the tension between containment and potential unrolling. Panayiotou sources these red carpets in Hollywood, where they have been used at major award ceremonies: paths stepped on by celebrities performing their celebrity, shrouds of Turin for the age of selfies. Judy Radul’s folded photocopied invitation, a component of her installation This is Television (2013), operates similarly. Here, the cheap photocopy and the crafty folding speak to the ubiquity of reproduction, as Radul defines television as the world. This installation locates us in an architecture of relays and reproduction and asks us to choose our place in our world of remote viewing.
In the end, this portfolio is a performance project: it moves through forms of inscription, containment, and projection, much like the magazine you are currently holding.