On the Cover:
Muhannad Shono, The Lost Path (detail), 2020. 65,000 recyclable PVC pipes, view of installation at Desert X Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Lance Gerber.
Among other things, Catherine Lee, who discusses her work in this issue, makes shield-shaped ceramic sculptures imprinted with poems she has composed over the years. Indeed, a concern for words and stories whispers through this month’s features like a gentle wind. Michael Dean translates individual letters and words into idiosyncratic forms. Saudi artist Muhannad Shono, throughout his varied practice, presents stories as ways to imagine the future. “Narrative,” he says, “once considered whimsical and child’s play, becomes essential in transforming the lived world and in manifesting different worlds within your mind.” While “Life Stories” is the title of our interview with Carla Gimbatti, her primary practice does not involve texts—unless, of course, one considers, as some do, the sedimented layers of the earth to be a text. Gimbatti instead uses things like handprints and impressions of sedimentary formations as, in the words of her interviewer, “translations of experience, conveyors of contexts both specific and continually expanding.” She also has created two social practices, one a storytelling project for children and adults, the other producing rugs for the homeless with messages of protection woven into them. Words seem to matter so much to Ricardo Brey that he defines his practice against them: “A piece of metal can be a color; that’s my tool—words are not.” And yet he also says, “What I try to do, in all of my work, is to develop this capacity for transformation of things that are ordinary into that which is extraordinary, and then back to ordinary. I love metaphorical language.” It seems that, in this issue at least, we can turn our backs to words (as we would to the wind), but that will not stop them from coming. —Daniel Kunitz, Editor-in-Chief