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More Than a Magazine — ‘Parkett ─220 Artists Editions & Collaborations Since 1984’

Posted in about Art, about Photography, about Video Art, Interviews (uncategorized) by sylvielin on January 15, 2014

“Since its inception, Parkett has asserted itself as one of the best publications on contemporary art available today. It is one of those rare periodicals that does not resemble a magazine. The quality of its operations and topicality of its discussions combine to make Parkett both a luxurious and necessary publication.”
Centre Georges Pompidou【1】

Parkett(official website: is a bilingual periodical (German-English) founded in Zurich in 1984. Currently, the editorial board consists of Bice Curiger, editor-in-chief, Jacqueline Burckhardt, co-founder and Dieter von Graffenried, publisher. Different from magazines in general that cover various themes and sections, Parkett is unique in that its format is close to that of ‘monographs’. Before 1989, it was published four times a year with each issue presenting only one artist; after 1989, it is published twice a year and each issue presents two artists. Not only doesParkett cover both established and emerging artists, it also collaborates directly with artists in its editorial process including the selection of images and writers as well as the conception of the content, the layout, the cover and even the spine.【2】Among all the periodicals on art, Parkett is the only one that takes such an approach. The distinctive feature is also reflected in the title of the magazine. As Jacqueline Burckhardt explained in her recent lecture in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the German term ‘parkett’ means not only a floor made of parquetry but also the seats that are closest to the stage (as well as the actors) in a theater. Therefore, the title also implies the publication’s close collaboration with artists.

Seen from the context of the art world, in the 1980s, the exchanges of contemporary art between Europe and America were far less frequent than today. Contemporary art from the U.S. was known in Europe but the European art scene was not known in the U.S. Therefore, one of the motivations of the foundation of Parkett was to be a platform for art between the two continents. In the mid-1980s, contemporary art became widespread; what followed was the tendency of star-artist: collecting was considered an activity for the rich and collectors buying European art emerged in the U.S. emerged. They eagerly looked for the next star-artist; even magazines that were not specialized in art took part in the speculation around such quests. In the face of the acceleration in the art world, Parkett stayed to its original intention and insisted on the low frequency of publication and the artist-book format, continuing with its quest of finding and presenting artistic practices with long-lasting vitality. In consistency with such insistence and its selected approach in choosing artists and writers, Parkett, with its history reaching almost three decades, has accumulated about 90 books, 215 features on artists, covering 1400 essays. As a content-driven publication, Parkett designs separate sections for artistic content and advertisements in order to preserve the integrity of the former as much as possible.

A Large Library and a Small Museum of Contemporary Art

With the aforementioned aspects, Parkett is seen as a valuable literature on contemporary art. Besides, with artists taking part in the conception and editing, each issue takes on the precious value of collectables. However, Parkett aimes to become not only a ‘large library’ but also ‘a small museum’ of contemporary art’.In addition toinvolving artists in making magazines, they also commission artists to make limited editions based on the notion of ‘Musée en appartement’. As Deborah Wyedescribes, the idea originates in the work of Marcel Duchamp, ‘whose interest in reproduction found expression through designs and inserts for periodicals, and the publication of multiples. His Box in a Valise intersects tellingly with the Parkett project. In 1941 he issued his first edition of this carrying-case containing a carefully-constructed display box packed with color reproductions and miniature replicas of his past works. The artist characterized this piece as a “portable museum” and sold it over the years in various editions, for a total of about 300 copies.’【3】

In the Parkett exhibitions that have been held in institutions around the world, the mini museum has been exhibited along with the publications. Also, the entirety of the Parkett artists editions was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art of New York in 1998. The collection that grows with time is currently shown in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Featuring around 220 works, the exhibition is the largest Parkett show to date. The text that follows presents objects and scenes from the exhibition divided in to six living spaces/sub-themes.


Sarah Morris’ Op Art works often take contemporary metropolises as their themes. Through visual approaches that stress geometric forms and planes as well as bright tones, they incarnate urban spectacles and empty, shallow urban experiences. Similar approaches and themes are also represented in her work for ParkettCapital (A Film by Sarah Morris) (2001).

Thomas Demandtakes photos of paper models he made by imitating specific spaces which are often scenes of drastic political events taken from the media. Created with similar approaches,Gangway(2001) also reveals consistent characteristics of Demand’s pictures: seemingly real pictures appear too perfect, homogenous and abstract, situating the images in zones between imitation/reconstruction and representation.


Sophie Calle’s work is infused with a strong autobiographical dimension and a certain sense of intimacy. A combination of both fiction and reality, her practice sometimes involves events she experiences or people she meets and may activate a series of interpersonal interactions. With The Tie(1993) made for Parkett,she again appropriates a personalobject on which is printed a story written by the artist. The story is related to sending tasteful stories about clothing to a badly dressed but charming man.

In an iconoclastmanner, Franz West’s works is willingly inserious and escapes ideological frames. Often with homely appearances, some of his works also invite the visitor’s participation. The artist even stated, ‘It doesn’t matter what the art looks like but how it’s used.’【4】Pouch for Parkett(1993) corresponds exactly to such an orientation towards functionswith the bag’s size fitting the dimension of the Parkett magazine. At the twentieth anniversary of Parkett, West also created a custom-made metallic bookshelf (2 x 20 Years of Parkett, 2004) that will house all the volumes of Parkett through 2024, implying a prospect of the publication’s future.


Anish Kapoor works on material, volume and their possibilities. Deep red is one of his favorite tones, implying notions of ‘organic’, ‘blood’, etc. Untitled (2003)is made with hand-tinted stocking of such a color; the fabric is stretched into a form resembling a loudspeaker. The work evokes the artist’ words quoted by Norman Bryson, ‘I have always felt drawn (…) towards some notion of fear in a very visual sense, towards sensations of falling, of being pulled inwards, of losing one’s sense of self.’【5】

Andy Warhol’s Photo Edition for Parkett(1987) is in line with his serial portraits with repetitive images and touches on the shadowof death and destruction as one of the artist’s preoccupations which can be found in the themes of his works: figures such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe; scenes such as electric chairs and car accidents.【6】In fact, the master passed away shortly after finishing the piece.


Richard Serra is known for his large-scale sculptures made of steel plates. Their minimalist shapes are constituted of curves or planes among which visitors can walk. The etching entitledBilbao1(2005) directly refers to the large-scale walk-in abstract sculpture he made for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The lines traced in the picture correspond to the bird’s eye view of the sculpture represented by several curves.However, in contrast to Serra’s weighty sculptures, the etching makes a much lighter version with simple lines.

Rodney Graham’s conceptual work is informed by references drawn from literature, philosophy, psychology, music, subculture, etc. Sometimes, he plays roles in his own photography and video works. In many ways, the stainless steel Weather Vane(2002) can be associated with ideas of his own oeuvre. For example, in Lynne Cooke’s article on Graham, she elaborates on how, through specific ways of editing, sound effects and framing, the artist creates ‘dramatic spatio-temporal hiatus’ and ‘seamless looping’ in the video-work CITY SELFCOUNTRY SELF (where the artist plays two roles), thus altering the viewing experience of conventional narrative films.【7】Standing at a site of hiatus, a kind of repetition and looping: the characteristics may well be attributed to the bike rider situated at the axle centreof the Weather Vane. And Graham would develop new versions ofWeather Vane where he is dressed as the humanist Erasmus reading on a horse【8】.


Both Christian Marclay and Laurie Anderson’s works are closely related to music. And the works by the two artists for Parkett both related to the ear. Marclay is interested in issues around sound and image; he has been carrying out experimentations of visualizing sounds. With My Bad Ear(2004), he literally incarnates the organ for hearing into a sculpture. Anderson is good at modifying or inventing instruments or sound installations. Hearring (1997), the work she made for Parkett is an earring with playable sound message【9】

Doug Aitken’s Decrease the Mass and Run like Hell(1999) is a mirror kite. It evokes an interior made of mirroring pieces in his solo show, ‘Ultraworld’, evoking the notion of the fragmentary subjectivity. Besides, one of Aitken’s shows was literally entitled ‘Mirror’: on the façade of the Seattle Art Museum, a giant screen represented constantly shifting image flows showing landscapes or environments that were integrated into the surrounding urban scape and accompanied simultaneous activities inside and outside the museum during the period of the show.【10】

The exhibitionalso features ‘Reading   Room’ where one can find and read all the issues of Parkett. Some documents (fax, drafts, drawings, etc.) taken from the collaboration processes betweenParkettand artists are also on view here, testifying to their creative experiences in common. Always in line with Parkett’s collaborative approach, the Parkett show in Taipei also includes projects or works selected from Taiwan and Japan which are presented in ‘+5 Meeting Room’, featuring the Cube (立方計劃空間) with a re-presentation of Revitalization of Chiayi Sound Project, a collaboration between Yannick Dauby, Yen-Ting Hsu and Wan-Shuen Tsai【11】, as well as the ‘Open Editorial Board’ with all the existing issues and editorial documents of ARTCO (今藝術) monthly, an art magazine published in Taiwan.

‘Parkett220 Artists Editions & Collaborations Since 1984’
Dates  2013/5/18~8/25

2. For all the book spines of Parkett, see

3. Wyer, ‘Collaborations with Parkett: 1984 to Now’, originally included in the eponymous brochure published by the Museum of Modern Art of New York in 2011. A new version of the text (with modifications on some dates and names) is included in the ‘Parkett’ exhibition catalogue published by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 2013.

4. Robert Smith, ‘Designers for a Day: Sculptors Take a Turn’, New York Times,

6. The notions are explored in the exhibition, ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962–1964’. See
7. Cooke, ‘Rodney Graham.A Tale of a Hat’, Parkett, no. 64, 2002, p. 98.
8.See a new version of the Weather Vane at For its snowball version, see
9. More about Laurie Anderson, see Sylvie Lin, ‘Laurie Anderson, Storyteller with Images and Music’,
10. More about the exhibition ‘Mirror’, see
11. The project is based on sounds collected in Chiayi, Taiwan. See

(*First published in Art Taipei Forum Media, 20th June 2013,


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