ART CRITIC in DOCUMENTA 13// KASSEL – GERMANY, 2012
It’s hard to imagine a novel picture of Venice. Even my father and I managed to take the same photograph of birds in the Plaza San Marco twenty-five years apart. It’s equally difficult to fathom an original take on the Hollywood stars of yesteryear, to see Humphrey Bogart without his handsome grimace or James Dean without his doomed allure.
Despite these odds, Cristina Stifanic has paired postage stamps of Hollywood luminaries with old postcards showing unremarkable views of Venice. The results are mostly uneven but in a few instances, that old Hollywood magic happens, part mise-en-scène, part narrative suggestion. A 37-cent stamp of John Wayne looks like a giant movie poster on a high brick wall, surrounded by shuttered villas— Venice as ghost town. A 42-cent stamp of Bette Davis places her at the top of a grand, hazy set of stairs, about to descend in all her glory. And then there’s Audrey Hepburn, high up on the wall of a small courtyard, part movie poster, part religious vision.
It certainly isn’t what the United States Postal Service had in mind when it designed these limited edition stamps. But then, Venice is a city built on water. Why should stamps only go on the back of a postcard?
Lori Waxman 8/6/12 5:09 PM
About Lori Waxman
Lori Waxman is a Chicago-based critic and art historian. Her reviews and articles have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Artforum, Artforum.com, Modern Painters, Gastronomica, Parkett, Tema Celeste, as well as the sadly defunct Parachute, New Art Examiner, and FGA.
She has written catalogue essays for small and large art spaces, including Spertus Museum and Three Walls Gallery in Chicago; Spaces Gallery in Cleveland; INOVA in Milwaukee, WI; Turpentine Gallery, Iceland; and Dieu Donné Papermill, New York. Artists written about include Arturo Herrera, Jenny Holzer, William Cordova, Eugenia Alter Propp, Raissa Venables, Gordon Matta-Clark, Joel Sternfeld, Emily Jacir, Taryn Simon, Ranbir Kaleka, and Christa Donner. She teaches art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is completing a doctoral dissertation at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.