– Spring/Summer 2003

Spring/Summer 2003 - Spring/Summer 2003

The Writing Life of Giovanni Intra

Mark von Schlegell

Giovanni Intra was born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand in 1968. He founded China Art Objects Gallery in Los Angeles with Steve Hanson in 1998. His art criticism and commentary has been published internationally and he was the Los Angeles editor of Artext. Giovanni Intra died on 17 December 2002 in New York.


(extract from a talk given at the Giovanni Intra Memorial, MoCA/Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, 16 February 2003)

Today’s world would have worked hard on Intra’s sensitivity. One believes, nevertheless, he would have eventually been forced to defeat George W Bush for all of us.

Born in May ’68, politics was too obvious a choice for Intra to be much of an issue. It turns out (for me at least, in a way too difficult to explain) Giovanni Intra was a kind of 70s enlightenment culture all his own. His rebellions – the rebellion of an orphan intellectual, the rebellion of an exile from a country long mythologically exiled, the rebellion of the culturally active art maker, the rebellion of a self engaged in its own professional development – were always directed (even at their most Machiavellian) through love. So was his writing.

Writing for Intra proved not so much a means of furthering his career as a curator and art dealer as it was a zone of security for making sense of those roles he was relatively insecure about playing. Writing was his trade; it was the most proletarian element of his American immigrant dreams. If the gallery collapsed, or if

  1. Giovanni Intra, ‘Daniel Malone: Triple Negative’, in Artext, no.70, 2001.

  2. G. Intra, ‘Slave Artists of the Piano Cult: An Introduction’, in Christoph Keller (ed.), Slave Pianos. A Reader, Frankfurt: Revolver Books, 2001.

  3. G. Intra, ‘LA Politics’, Christoph Keller (ed.), Circles: Individuelle Sozialisation und Netzwerkarbeit in der Zeitgenössischen Kunst, Frankfurt am Main: Revolver Books, 2002.