Aleksandra Mir

Newsroom Revival

HALL ART FOUNDATION, SCHLOSS DERNEBURG—A display of the Newsroom Installation and photographic documentation from the original event at Mary Boone Gallery 2007 along with the following narration of its dramatic aftermath.

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The NYC tabloids New York Daily News and New York Post unite the population around shared joys and fears; they help spread the city’s gossip and form its identity.

In 2007, three assistants and myself spent several months in the microfiche archives of NYC Public Library copying 10,000 covers of the two tabloids – the outcome of their combined cover stories of 15 years. Most of what was reported during this time was local disaster and scandal. In retrospect, news before 9/11 made this megalopolis look like a quaint town full of petty crooks, with this accident or that murder resulting in the occasional loss of a single life.

As I sorted through the 10,000 covers, I became sensitized to the Haiku like quality of headline copy, the subliminal rhythms of stories on repeat (1 Cop Shot, 2 Cops Shot, 3 Cops Shot, 4 Cops Shot) emerging themes (Bad Weather, Killer Moms and Dads, Food Poisoning, Misbehaving Teenagers) and narratives forming over longer periods of time, such as the melodrama around Donald Trump’s marriages and divorces which received all of 21 covers, compared to only 12 for the entirety of the AIDS crisis.

The dissonance was startling, not only in sheer numbers, but also in the relative importance granted each story. On February 12, 1990 New York Post announced Trouble in Paradise the terminal SPLIT between Donald and Ivana, giving the story 95% of its front cover real estate, while the tiny line of world news at the bottom states: NELSON MANDELA FREE

I organized my findings in folders and selected 240 covers to draw. My choices were mostly intuitive and made me smile with recognition. I lived in New York between 1989 and 2005, 15 years that roughly coincide with the time period of the research. As I never had a studio in the city, I developed a practice that relied heavily on communication instead: phone, Internet, publishing, travel, live art and event production. The show at the Mary Boone gallery came to draw on all of the above.

Over a period of 2 months (September-October 2007) together with a rotating team of 17 assistants I reproduced the selected covers freehand and live in front of the public. The gallery was turned into the studio I never had; at the same time, we produced art at a schedule more akin to a news agency than to that of an artist’s studio. Every day, there was new art and old news on the walls.

Half of the drawings created were sold during the course of the show and spread around the world. The Hall Art Foundation acquired the Bad Weather series (reports on the cyclical yet always equally shocking heat waves and snowstorms of the city) and the whole installation, including my work table and archive.

In 2012, a natural disaster struck New York. Hurricane Sandy flooded the Chelsea gallery district and in the matter of minutes, the remaining 120 unsold works were destroyed, from pulp to pulp.

2017 and exactly ten years later, as the Hall Art Foundation installs the original work at the Schloss Derneburg, a sensational discovery is made. Among the select folders, a Trump Reject folder appears. It reveals another 45 covers that never made it into my original drawings, making the total number that he made front cover news 66 times. This record outstrips any other narrative in those media, and on the sheer merit of making two women alternatively happily married, pregnant, dumped, and cry.

The startling correlation between the past, present and future is not something I as an artist could ever create or predict. But as events unfold, it is worth noticing the blue prints right in front of our eyes.