THINGSText: Roberto Bagatti

Permanent Food is a six-monthly magazine edited by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Paola Manfrin, art director at McCann Erickson Milan. Every issue is an amusing, sometimes shocking and ironic selection of images, literally ripped out of other periodicals from around the world. The instant before an airplane crashes on a pic-nic field, a stolen frame of a skinhead rally, a girl throwing up with a finger stuck in her throat or a Raymond Pettibon drawing are just a small selection of the images you could probably stumble into while skimming one of the latest issues.

The visual strengh of the images and the sharp juxtaposition of many different contexts creates an ironic language, often capable of startling the reader: sometimes through the raw nature of the images, sometimes with the dramatic or ironic tension within a sequence.

The magazine has no editorial board and no offices and easily remains one of the most interesting produced in Milan, besides being an excellent instrument to sound the visual trends within the editorial world. I had lunch with Paola and asked her a few questions about the past and the future of the magazine.

Nobody earns a penny with Permenent Food. It’s a sort of editorial virus, distributed in many different countries except for Italy, God know’s why…

Yes, I saw it at Magma in London, in a bookstore in Santa Monica LA and in various different museum bookstores…

Yes, you can find it in Tokyo, New York, London… in many different countries…

That’s amazing for a magazine without a real production budget, as if it was almost home made. So could you please explain how PF was first conceived?

Well, first of all PF started off because of Maurizio’s desire to work at his own magazine, something he could personally edit. Initially it was a different magazine, with different ideas behind the whole project and it was conceived with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster… They invited many friends, many other artists to modify and send them an image they felt related to, like those images that one hangs up behind his desk, scraps ripped out of magazines.

I was already helping Maurizio with some of his art projects from the early nineties and I eventually started co-editing Permanent. With the third issue my intervention became more present and a more art-directed dimension emerged, closer to the use and the impact of images within advertising. This lead us to invite people to simply send images, without modifying them… but the magazine grew bigger and we realized that we didn’t have enough images for a whole issue (it currently counts 192 four colour pages but started off in black and white, almost with a fanzine format) so from the third to the fourth issue we decided to personally collect the images.

As with the special edition based on images torn from Vogue…

The idea of editing a special edition of Permanent based on Vogue came from Mariuccia Casadio (Art Editor for Vogue Italia). Permanent Food is a project that has evolved within it’s life span, when you spend more than five months selecting images for one issue you realize that you’ve finished up with a sequence that in some ways describes the historical moment you’re living.

The problem we have today is that there are many other magazines with long sequences of more or less strong images… for this reason we’ve started skimming books, because it’s easier to find unpublished images, at least on other magazines.

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