MICHAEL STIPE on display at the Ica Foundation in Milan

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Fondazione ICA Milano presents, from Tuesday 12 December 2023 to Saturday 16 March 2024, the personal exhibition “I have lost and I have been lost but for now I’m flying high” by Michael Stipe, multifaceted visual artist and iconic leader of the musical group REM

The exhibition project, curated by Alberto Salvadori and designed specifically for the occasion, has the portrait as the fulcrum of his research, interpreted through a wide range of expressive languages ​​ranging from photographs to book covers, from ceramics to sculptures and audio works . On display at the ICA Milan Foundation is a selection of unpublished works that trace a path in the artistic production of Michael Stipe, offering an original reflection that intertwines the concepts of homage and vulnerability.


The title of the exhibition evokes a declaration by the artist who identifies vulnerability as a real driving force. Starting from the chaotic dimension that characterizes our contemporaneity, vulnerability becomes for Stipe a presence to be welcomed, cherished and used as a tool to find new paths to take. The power inherent in vulnerability emerges in the exhibition from the reading and interpretation of the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927), in which the reader is invited to create, model, invent a new calm, born from the acceptance of one’s own fragility and the constant search for its own dimension of serenity.


Michael Stipe explains in an intimate and generous dialogue with the curator published in the exhibition booklet:

Vulnerability becomes a superpower in this dynamic. A map that describes the difficulties of our present, highlighting new opportunities and a renewed understanding of our importance, not only for ourselves, but also for those around us, for our communities, for our world. In this moment I choose to focus on the most precious possession, on the brilliance, beauty and playfulness of life. I’ve lost and I’ve lost myself, but for now I’m flying high.”


The exhibition itinerary conceived for the ICA Milan Foundation thus offers a survey of Michael Stipe’s creative universe, defining it as a whole as a great self-portrait composed of portraits. The sculptures on display are a tribute to the artists who helped shape his vision, including Constantin Brancusi, Marisa Merz and a Roman copy of an ancient Greek sculpture. Taken together, the works give an impression of the moment of transition in which we find ourselves. The artist declines the works through different methods of formal construction which see on the one hand the use of analogue representation – particularly evident in the hand-made sculptures – on the other a completely digital creation path, present through industrially produced objects set up in show.

Everyday life is his repertoire of inspirations which materialize in a variety of possible restitutions in the form of photographic portraits, sculptures in plaster and ink, plastic and concrete, book production and audio/video performances. In Stipe’s visual research, the range of action reflects a transversal and transdisciplinary expressive totality, whose creative dimension is characterized by the instinctive exploration of different media.

At the center of his work Michael Stipe places the ability and availability of the artist as a living and thinking being to accompany the visitor in a deeply emotional and empathetic experience, inviting him to become aware of his own vulnerability to grasp the infinite possible routes towards a future improve.

©Michael Stipe Photo by David Belisle


The exhibition is accompanied by a book published by Damiani Books and created in collaboration with the ICA Milan Foundation. Titled Even the birds gave pausesis Michael Stipe’s fourth photographic volume and includes a series of existing works that deepen the exploration of contemporary portraiture initiated by the exhibition.


Michael Stipe
I have lost and I have been lost but for now I’m flying high
12 December 2023 – 16 March 2024
Edited by Alberto Salvadori


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.