'THE LAST EXPRESS' AVAILABLE NOW! #10 and final issue of the Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
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Table of contents:
Cover: Hans Haacke News (1968–2008)
Exclusive interview: Inhotim curator Rodrigo Moura talks to artist Mauro Restiffe
Dirt Sheet column: Janine Armin on TLN Dexter Sinister's 'The First/Last Newspaper (November 4–21, 2009)'
Report: 'Fit to Print?: The newsroom reinvented', conversation at the New Museum between ‘The Last...’ columnist Adam Chadwick and web veteran Jason Fry
100 years ago...: 'Los Angeles Herald' (Los Angeles, California) 1900-1911, December 8, 1910
Focus: Blu Dot's self-assembly office furniture for the ‘The Last Newspaper’ partner organizations
The Next Newspaper (Profiling the organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals redefining ink-and-paper news): The Daily
Focus: 'Do you love milk and honey?', Greg Barton on Emily Jacir's TLN work 'SEXY SEMITE' (2000-02)
Picture Agent-Our singular picture agency: Simon Fujiwara
Media Habits: Michalis Pichler
'Embrace the Ambiguity', ‘The Last Newspaper’ curators Richard Flood and Benjamin Godsill reflect on the project’s journey.
Focus: 'Reading the Reader', Greg Barton and Irina Chernyakova on TLN partner organisation the 'New City Reader'
Exclusive interview: 'The Wires', Janine Armin talks to TLN artist Hans Haacke
Cartoon: 'The Woods: The End' by Francesc Ruiz
Advertising Department: Ester Partegàs
'Fit to Print?: The newsroom reinvented'
On November 27, Latitudes organized a conversation at the New Museum between ‘Fit to Print’ filmmaker (and ‘The Last...’ columnist) Adam Chadwick, and Jason Fry, an expert in the challenges faced by newspapers in the digital world.
Jason Fry: I started at The Wall Street Journal in 1995, when they were a single free section and after thirteen years I had seen it become a full paper and go beyond its roots of being a financial paper to become a source of general news. It became a subscription site far ahead anyone else. One reason why so many jobs are disappearing in newspapers now, is that some top publishing executives do not understand the business they are in and are only slowly realizing that is suicide. They have become very confused between the mission of journalism and the business of journalism. The business is decaying, leaving the mission looking for new financial backing.
Adam Chadwick: How did journalism come to this breaking point? It began in the early 1960s, starting with how television affected the newspaper industry as it became the media where most people got their information from. Newspapers started changing their priorities back then...
JF: Newspapers were mostly family-owned operations, others were true public servants. Soon after some became owned by corporations and that changed the calculus for the business and how they made money. They were depending on performance and shareholders. Even in the 1990s newspapers were making a profit margin of 30% year after year, without really understanding the business they were in. Television has certainly created a star mentality amongst reporters which is not entirely working to the benefit of journalism. Newspapers have been historically successful because publishers essentially had a localized monopoly on printing and distribution. Retail stores would communicate their products by placing ads in a newspaper – the publishers owned a distribution mechanisms. In the last ten to fifteen years that has changed, as advertising has moved to the internet – everything from furniture to job listings. Advertising was the business that funded journalism – the financial underpinnings have been knocked down.
AC: 80% of the content that is broadcast on National Public Radio comes from newspapers. It’s the same with CBS News – Russell Mitchell for instance has told me they are pulling content from The New York Times and The Washington Post. So the erosion of the newspaper is also hugely affecting TV.
JF: Newspapers used to compete with whoever started a new one locally; now they try to compete with the entire world. There is way too much content out there. How many thousands of movie reviews can you find online of the latest Harry Potter movie? And how many do we actually need?
AC: Is the web an echo-chamber of news, particularly with search engine optimization and ‘content farms’ dragging traffic? Or, if you boil it down, is it all only coming from The New York Times or The Washington Post? What is being lost now that the business model is broken? Investigative reporting?
JF: I’m not worried about journalism, I am worried about newspapers. We cannot confuse the two. The web has been wonderful to open up voices and to demystify reporting while letting a lot more people use their own expertise. But yes, investigative journalism is missing and it takes a long time and it’s very expensive. If the The New York Times wants to cover a story on the dodgy doings of an organization, they will continue doing it, even if the organization goes into battle with lawyers, they won’t be intimidated. But that won’t happen if you are blogger or freelancer no matter how smart or committed you are. I wonder if that kind of reporting has to be done institutionally though.
AC: ProPublica is one of the only models, they are a non-profit for investigative reporting organisation with about thirty reporters and editors. [See The Last Post, page 9] They have deep pockets which enable them to pay competitive salaries. Other smaller examples are Investigative Voice from Baltimore led by Stephen Janis, who started it with Alan Forman, a former Baltimore Sun journalist. It focuses on crime and corruption in west Baltimore, which if you’ve seen The Wire you’ll know about. They don’t compete with the Baltimore Sun, as they cover stories they wouldn’t. They also operate thanks to donations, but don’t know for how much longer they can continue working like this. How sustainable this model is, nobody knows. Even with grant organisations like the Knight Foundation there is only so much money they can throw in. Carmen, what is your experience at The Trenton Times?
Carmen Cusido: I’m a full-time reporter now, we have five members in the staff – it used to be more than twenty. It does get tougher because we don’t have the resources to cover investigative stories. I have to pull out the resources on my own. I cover education, county news, and immigration news because I’m the only Spanish speaking reporter. When we were a larger organisation, we used to have lunch breaks and discuss things as a group, but now you really need to prioritise. It’s hugely difficult as you have to take work home with you and there are no boundaries with your private life; it’s a 24/7 job. Before you could go out and talk to people, get their trust and understand their perspective. Now I cannot even leave the desk, as I have to cover three stories and have to do everything over the telephone.
Question: Do people really want hard news anymore? Do newspapers understand their readers?
JF: Take the recent health care discussion: a hugely complex issue to follow and one that matters to all of us. Newspapers would cover the most recent political victory, but never show the bones of the story. This isn’t easy stuff. To the shock of newspaper editors, a lot of people read Wikipedia to understand complex situations as you get a straight forward recitation of what’s going on. That’s a model newspapers haven’t done as they continue to follow a telegraph system for getting news out. It’s not satisfying readers’ needs.
AC: Most people I’ve spoken to want the hard news, the meat and potatoes of good journalism. Readers have stopped trusting newspapers for various reasons, some felt they were not catering a certain demographic of people or literally because news organizations have removed the newspaper dispenser boxes from poorer communities, to reach out to richer ones that would potentially advertise with them.
Question from the audience: What is your view on paywalls?
JF: News organisations should realize they are competing with the web. The success of the The Wall Street Journal’s paywall, has been in that it is targeted mostly at business readers, yet The New York Times covers everything. You pay for something therefore you think it’s valuable. Paywalls are getting in trouble in two ways: the hassle of entering a password, finding a reliable payment method. It’s not very immediate. Secondly, in the way they are implemented. If you are seeing nothing of the content you are about to buy you’re taking a blind leap of faith in paying for something you are likely going to read only once.
AC: It’s not cheap to produce content for the iPad either. If you put up a paywall you are no longer part of the linking culture such as The Huffington Post.
IF: You cannot create a walled garden that nobody can get into. You have to tease readers and let them share.
Question from the audience: Is hyper-local journalism the way to go? Or to be more brutal, what will ultimately save journalism?
AC: Paying reporters and establishing a sustainable business model. Does non-profit model work? It does right now – but for how long?
– Transcribed by Mariana Cánepa Luna
All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org
'THE LAST TIMES' AVAILABLE NOW! #9 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
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Cover: Peter Piller, Pfeile (Arrows), Archiv Peter Piller 2000-2006.
Exclusive interview: ‘Bedeutungsflächen, In Löcher blicken, Ortsbesichtigungen...’, Julienne Lorz talks to Peter Piller
Focus: ‘Press Victim’, Collin Munn on TLN artist Mike Kelley's Timeless/Authorless Series (1995) + ‘Mike on Mike’, New Museum Guard & Tour Guide Mike Santistevan on Mike Kelleys's work
Picture Agent: Pablo Vargas Lugo
100 Years Ago…: The Seattle Star (Seattle, Washington) 1899-1947, December 1, 1910
Next newspaper: Web aggregation
Focus: ‘Sarah Sex Sport-Trait’, Lorena Muñoz-Alonso on TLN work Fat, Forty and Flab-ulous (1990) by TLN artist Sarah Lucas
Media Habits: Carey Young
Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin on Allen Ruppersberg‘s TLN work Screamed from Life (1982)
Focus: 'Dutiful Scrivener' by TLN artists Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere + Mark Twain’s ‘Amended Obituaries’ (1902)
Focus and exclusive interview: ‘Graphite Testimony’, Greg Barton on Andrea Bowers’ work Eulogy to One and Another (2006) featured in TLN
Exclusive interview: ‘Having It All’, Latitudes talks with TLN co-curator Richard Flood about TLN artist Robert Gober’s work Newspaper (1992)
Cartoon: 'The Woods: Fahrenheit 451' by Francesc Ruiz
Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Picture Agent: Our Singular Picture Agency
Pablo Vargas Lugo, artist
In 1996, NASA released images of the probable remains of extraterrestrial life in a meteorite of Martian origin found in Antarctica. Back then I quickly latched on to the enthusiasm caused by this news, and rather opportunistically used this image as part of an ambitious newspaper project. However, shortly afterwards, scientists disputed the authenticity of these supposedly fossilized bacteria, citing the possibility of an inorganic origin. Obviously the said newspaper project lost its edge once the findings were disproved, and was shamefully filed at the end of my portfolio.
Last year the original scientific team found traces of organically produced materials on their treasured meteorite, using more potent microscopes; but the cheers didn’t last for long, as their evidence was contradicted by another group working in a lab across the hall, and headed by the brother of the leader of the first team. As questions on the urgent matter of extraterrestrial life are appropriately resolved between siblings in close quarters, and hoping for further validation of the original findings, I file this picture in this other newspaper project, as a personal reminder of the troubled relationship between art, trustworthiness and whatever we choose to call news.
'THE LAST JOURNAL' AVAILABLE NOW! #8 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
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24 November 2010
Cover: Fernando Bryce, from the series L'Humanité (2009–2010)
Feature: 'L'Humanité', Yasmil Raymond on Fernando Bryce
Feature: 'Independent Gazette', Lorena Muñoz-Alonso reports from London on two newspaper-inspired exhibitions: 'The Independent' (Damián Ortega at The Curve, Barbican) and ‘Can Altay: The Church Street Partners' Gazette’, The Showroom. Plus Damián Ortega exchanges impressions with curator Alona Pardo on his show.
Media Habits: Ester Partegàs, TLN advertising department artist
Brazil Focus: 'The Imaginery Newspaper', Chris Dercon on Luciano Figueiredo & Ana Paula Cohen on 'Jornal 28b', the newspaper produced during the 28th Bienal de São Paulo.
Focus: 'Boetti e His Double', Christian Rattemeyer on TLN artist Alighiero e Boetti's Corriere Della Sera (1976)
The Next Newspaper (Profiling the organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals redefining ink-and-paper news): CROWD-SOURCING – SPOT.US / EMPHAS.IS
Exclusive interview: 'The Days of This Society...', Desiree B. Ramos interviews TLN artist Rirkrit Tiravanija
Focus: 'Paper view' Gwen Schwartz asked New Museum visitors about their experiences of TLN
Focus: 'What's CUP?' by Gwen Schwartz and Max Andrews
Picture Agent-Our singular picture agency: Adrià Julià
Focus: '29 Days Later', Sarah Wang on TLN work Untitled Green Screen Memory (2010) by Larry Johnson + 2009 California Fires by Collin Munn
Cartoon: 'The Woods' by Francesc Ruiz
Advertising Department: Ester Partegàs
'THE DAYS OF THIS SOCIETY...' New Museum curatorial fellow Desiree B. Ramos meets ‘The Last Newspaper’ artist Rirkrit Tiravanija
Acrylic and newspaper on linen. 13 parts, all measuring 86 1/8 x 84 1/8 x 1 inches each. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brownʼs enterprise.
Desiree B. Ramos: How did you become an artist?
Rirkrit Tiravanija: By accident! I actually wanted to be a photojournalist and then mistakenly took some art history classes and became curious about art. I left the university from the history department, and I went to art school and I went to talk to the counselor about the idea of studying art. So I had an appointment, I went to the meeting and I had to wait in this kind of lobby library. I was just standing there, looking around the shelf, and there was a book that stood out from the shelf from the Ontario College of Art, so I just pulled it out, took down the address and left. So it was kind of accidental.
DB: What was your first art piece?
RT: Umm, that’s a debate. It was actually an image that my father took of me; I made this plasticine sculpture on my ear, it was like an ear extension, so that I looked like a Vulcan. So I would say that was my first sculpture.
DB: Do you still have it, or a record of it?
RT: I have a picture that my father took, but I don’t have the actual plasticine. I guess I could always remake it.
DB: That would be fun...
RT: Yeah, that would be fun. Wow, you just gave me a new idea!
DB: What was your first political work?
RT: Well, it depends on what is political, you know, if personal is political. The first work I made in art school, officially made in art school, was about identity, about me being in the West and trying to figure out what that was. It was the first letter of the Thai alphabet drawn on cardboard, and then it had a Thai dictionary explanation with this alphabet in English. So in a way, that had a kind of cultural politics in it. I would say my work is always asking those kinds of personal political questions, I mean, about the self and about identity.
DB: What got you into cooking?
RT: It was the simplest thing I could do. I was working in Chicago on questions of, about, cultural artifacts. I worked on this conceptual work with the idea that these artifacts were displays, again, about identity also, and that they were missing; they were fragmented in a kind of gap, or there was a gap that I thought needed to be questioned.
DB: So it was natural for you to mix cooking with art?
RT: Exactly, because I was looking at pots, bowls and plates, and Buddha statues, and these were all objects of everyday use in my culture, so first I basically decided to just cook so that these things would always be in play and from that it became, well, it was always about the people. Of course these are things that were used everyday, which have been taken out of context, put onto display because they were valued in a different situation, and looked at through the Western eye as if they were somehow valuable in relation to the idea of culture. But for me it was really about the life around the object.
DB: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
RT: I don’t have a favorite thing to cook.
DB: Nothing that gets you more into the act of cooking and engaging with people?
RT: It’s not so much about the cooking, not about the food or any particular dish; it’s about the act and then ... I think it’s always more communal to cook a big pot of curry than to make a piece of steak. But I actually just recently cooked a lot of steak for 2,000 people so I’m actually wrong, I could cook steak for a lot of people but, of course, it’s about the activity of cooking. When we made this kind of barbecue grill, Argentinean style, the asado, it’s a communal activity in itself. So, it was just a matter of scale. People normally do it with families but here we extended it so we could involve even more people at the same moment, so it became something else.
DB: Where do you get your ideas from? Are you inspired by something in specific or do they randomly come to you? Do you get them from looking at things, reading, or conversing with people?
RT: I think it’s all of that. It’s an ongoing process that I have and I think many artists have, which is like you’re always thinking, looking and everything that you experience becomes a question or a possibility. It’s a combination; I’m looking at certain things that I’m interested in but, on the other hand, I’m always very receptive to what is happening around me, and that becomes a trigger for other things.
DB: I’m wondering how you go on varying so much in terms of media when it comes to your work. Is it difficult to maneuver all these different types of expression, ranging from cooking to investigations about architecture... ?
RT: I’m not interested in style, I’m interested in content and if all the elements make sense, they all have certain roots or they all certainly have a relation to each other. It could be an eight hour video or a ten hour cooking session, yet they all bring people to the same place.
DB: Do you consider your piece now on view in The Last Newspaper at the New Museum, Untitled (the days of this society are numbered/September 21, 2009), part of a series along with other text works you have recently produced?
RT: I consider them like signage, like stop signs, road signs. They form a series but they can make you pay attention to a certain place and a certain moment when you are confronted by them. I think about that layering of the newspaper, which is an activity I’m very interested in, and in the activity of information being gathered. There are just a lot of layers there for me, from the ads to the typeface of the newspaper itself. There’s a lot of coincidence – or accidents, or maybe even intentions – in the way that certain things get laid out on these pages. The sign makes you stop and pay attention to the other things happening behind it.
DB: Would you be able to explain further how that text in particular explores the social role of the artist?
RT: ‘The days of this society is numbered’ is attributed to the situation in 1968; obviously, at that time it was a provocation within the context of a manifestation against the society, or rather of society against a particular group of people, the institution, people in control. And I would say that, of course, those moments reoccur, those conditions can still exist.
DB: I’m sure everybody asks about the grammar…
RT: Yes, well, it’s a bad translation of French. The mistake makes people react.
DB: And the dates on the newspaper…
RT: Well some in the series do make a reference to, for example, the market crash of 2008, just at the end of George Bush’s presidency. It has all been a commentary about the Bush years and certainly in conjunction with the market crash.
DB: What will we see from you in the near future? What are you working on now?
RT: I’m working on a film which will be about a retired Thai farmer in the countryside, and I hope that people will get to see it, or that it’s good enough for people to see it.
'THE LAST EVENING SUN' AVAILABLE NOW! #7 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
(READ IT ON ISSUU)
Table of contents:
Cover: 'Without Rain Partial Nights Aerial Days', a special cover by Julia Rometti & Victor Costales (continues page 12)
Feature: Artist and writer Kathleen Ritter misreads the incomprehensible newspapers of Mark Manders
Focus: Simone Menegoi on Pavimento, Tautologia (1967) by Luciano Fabro; plus notes on 'Fabricating Fabro' by the New Museum Chief Preparator, Shannon Bowser
Special pull-out poster: Installation pictures and a checklist of 'The Last Newspaper' and New Museum's Facebook fans and Twitter followers reporting a sentence of personal news
Feature: 'Thomas Hirschhorn ♥ Queens' Charity Scribner on Thomas Hirschhorn
Feature: 'Red and black all over, again' Irina Chernyakova follows the design and production of 'The Last Evening Sun'
Focus: Inaba/C-Lab's 'Cloudy with a chance of Certainty'
Media Habits: Michael Rakowitz
The Next Newspaper (Profiling the organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals redefining ink-and-paper news): WikiLeaks
Dirt Sheet column: Janine Armin at the Taipei and the Gwangju Biennials
Picture Agent-Our singular picture agency: Maria Loboda
100 years Ago…: 'Palestine Daily Herald' (Palestine, Texas) 1902-1949, November 17, 1910
Cartoon: 'The Woods: Flavor of the month' by Francesc Ruiz
'Advertising Department': Ester Partegàs
Joshua Edwards, Exhibitions Manager at the New Museum, mops the floor and lays the previous day’s New York Times
to create Fabro’s Pavimento, Tautologia (1967). Photos: Latitudes
Curator and writer Simone Menegoi on Luciano Fabro’s ‘Pavimento–Tautologia’, the earliest work in ‘The Last Newspaper’
My grandfather had a sports car, a Lancia Fulvia coupé. He always kept it polished and would only use it on certain occasions. He was so afraid of getting it dirty that he never took off the plastic wrapping that covered the seats when he bought it, even after years of use. His zeal was not particularly unusual in Italy those years (the 1970s), as many people left on the protective plastic film that brand new sofas or chairs would have when purchased. This habit came from two decades earlier, when memories of war and poverty were still lurking. The first consumer goods purchases were the result of laborious saving, so things had to last for as long as possible.
Pavimento–Tautologia (Floor–Tautology) by Luciano Fabro is based on the same logic that drove people like my grandfather to keep the car seats wrapped: a logic that gave up the pleasure of being able to touch the leather or the fabric of the seat in exchange for the satisfaction of knowing that, beneath the protective plastic, the surface was kept intact. In Fabro’s work, a portion of the floor (sometimes an entire surface) is cleaned, polished with wax and then covered with newspapers. Beyond the ephemeral protection of paper – “a cheap and lightweight Carl Andre” as Jörg Heiser has written – the floor disappears, we cannot appreciate its lustre, but we know it’s being kept immaculate, and we know this will be preserved, even if we walk on the papers.
In 1978, a decade after presenting the work for the first time in Turin, Fabro wrote "in my town... the floor is cleaned and then covered, at least for the first day, with papers, newspapers or rags to avoid getting it dirty... on that first day, in those two or three days that it was covered with paper, no one saw the floor clean. This particular way of accounting for the labour and its preservation, not for ostentation but as a private affair, seeks to ensure that the effort made doesn’t end up in anything too quick.”
The comparison between the newspapers on the floor and plastic on the new car seats, however, applies only within certain constraints. There is a fundamental difference between the work required for you to buy a car and the work involved in cleaning the floor. In Italy, in those years, the second had a clear gender dimension: it was a domestic job regarded as part of the housewife’s duties. Fabro was fully aware of this and it is no accident that he presented Pavimento for the first time in a gallery inside a private apartment, a space that preserved a domestic environment. Fabro was also aware of the position he was adopting as a male artist presenting it as a piece. The sculptor sided with the housewife, with her modest and under appreciated task that was repeated daily. "We experience seeing our work destroyed daily" Carla Lonzi, a friend and admirer of Fabro, wrote in 1970 in the Manifesto di rivolta femminile (Manifesto of feminist revolt), a key text of Italian feminism.
Forty years onwards, what is the effect of Pavimento in the context of an American museum, one so different from when the work was presented for the first time? Is it still effective? The vernacular appearance of the work, its provincial and quotidian dimension is probably hard to grasp today, particularly outside Italy. The political aspect – gender politics – is certainly less visible now than it was in the late 1960s, although its historical importance cannot be questioned. Pavimento remains current with the idea of "care", caring as an essential dimension of the relationship with a work. Pavimento consists only of this: in taking care. "Every experience related to this handmade piece is linked to maintenance," Fabro wrote in 1967. A piece that is not to be contemplated, but to be done. Its only legitimate spectator is the one who realised it and looked after it. In short, perhaps it is its only spectator. (Since to the rest of us, the polished floor remains invisible.) Fabro referred to caring in a material sense, as a symbol of all the other ‘cures’ that a piece would require: of a critical or political kind, for instance. In this sense, Pavimento was for him a sort of manifesto, as he stated that a work can never be taken for granted, but must be constantly redefined, reiterated, and defended. In its ‘infrathin’ layer of paper and floor wax, Pavimento–Tautologia guards a surprising depth of meaning.
– Translated from Italian by Mariana Cánepa Luna
(sidebar) FABRICATING FABRO
Courtesy of the Luciano Fabro Estate. Photo courtesy: Katie Sokolor / Gothamist.
Shannon Bowser: "I've been installing the piece every weekday since the exhibition opened in October. The layout uses all the pages of an issue yet the arrangement can be a little haphazard. We can lay the pages facing different directions and it doesn't need to be too precise or follow a set dimension, even though the barriers that surround the piece help as a guide to square it up to the wall. I throw down extra sheets here and there but it usually works out to be the same size each day overall no matter how many pages there were in the previous day's issue.
We have a specific subscription for the New York Times for this piece. Every morning I pick up a copy to keep it for the following day and I have with me the one from yesterday ready to go. I find myself reading the news while installing the work and so sometimes I have to pause to read properly, and I end up finding out about stuff that I would normally wouldn't. I wish I had time to read the New York Times every day, because there are so many good articles. Sometimes I flip through pages when I'm laying them down, so if there's an annoying full page with glaring women facing upwards I can choose to turn it around. It's really interesting to see yesterday's newspaper all laid out on the floor and realize the actual physical size of it, because you cannot really read the New York Times on the subway for example, because it's so big – it's so impractical!
Doing it definitely adds time to my morning routine so I've been coming in early every morning to be able to install the Fabro and then get everything else sorted as all these shows require a lot of maintenance. But it has been really interesting, I definitely feel like I'm participating in an artwork."
Watch a 'making of' video of the piece here.
Shannon Bowser (Chief Preparator) installs Pavimento–Tautologia on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays.
Victoria Manning (Registrar) takes charge on Saturdays and Joshua Edwards (Exhibition Manager) on Sundays.
'THE LAST MONITOR' AVAILABLE NOW! #5 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
Issue 5: The Last Monitor
(READ IT ON ISSUU)
November 3, 2010
Cover: ‘Today & Yesterday’. Gustav Metzger, Eichmann and the Angel, 2005.
Exclusive interview: Janine Armin on 'The Last Newspaper's work 'Eating the Wall Street Journal' by William Pope L.
Cover Story: Sophie O’Brien on Gustav Metzger
‘Picture Agent: Our singular picture agency’: Jordan Wolfson, artist
The Next Newspaper: Irina Chernyakova on ‘The San Francisco Panorama’
Fit to Print: Adam Chadwick on the digital divide
100 Years Ago…: ‘The Bisbee Daily Review’, 1901–1971, November 3, 1910
Media Habits: Mark von Schlegell, science fiction novelist and art essayist
Focus: Marcel Janco on Sarah Charlesworth
‘Readers’ Lives’: 'Paper-Weight Champion', Inveterate collector Harley Spiller – who recently completed a masters thesis, ‘On Newsstands Now! A History of Paperweights and Newsstand Advertising’ – weighs up the ‘pisapapeles’, ‘Papierbeschwere’, and 鎮紙 of the world.
Feature: ‘Heralding the Gizmo’ Max Andrews on Kirstine Roepstorff
‘Readers’ Lives’ by Marc D’Andre
Infographic: Facebook poll: where does the New Museum's audience get their information?
Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Tools’ by Francesc Ruiz
‘Advertising Department’: Ester Partegàs with Holly Coulis and Ridley Howard
Inveterate collector Harley Spiller – who recently completed a masters thesis, ‘On Newsstands Now! A History of Paperweights and Newsstand Advertising’ – weighs up the ‘pisapapeles’, ‘Papierbeschwere’, and 鎮紙 of the world.
Newsstand paperweights – the usually cast-iron weights that saw their heyday in the 1950s on newsstands across the world – bear the insignia of newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Toronto Star, Saturday Evening Post, Time, Life, and Newsweek. The Mortimer Spiller Company, Inc., my parents’ advertising and sales promotion business, manufactured and sold these weights from the late 1940s through the mid 1980s. A century of their concerted collecting and documentation efforts has resulted in an archive of 151 unique international newsstand weights, plus the original carved mahogany prototypes, news-dealer aprons and caps, business correspondence, photographs, almost 1,000 news clippings, and more.
Advertising and the media have always been linked. The nation’s first mass-market newspapers and magazines arrived in the 1890s and 1900s, their very existence made possible by advertising fees collected from large corporations and retailers. The first weights to hold down newspapers may have been well-worn horseshoes, which were readily available at the onset of the 20th century, about the time automobiles started replacing horses. Paperweights forged expressly for newsstand use started appearing shortly thereafter, and by mid-century they were a fixture on the urban scene.
In the 1950s and 1960s, some of the thousands of weights Spiller was making were shipped overseas by Life, Time, and the Herald Tribune. These weights were deployed on the handful of major newsstands that sold international publications in London, Paris, and other European capitals. Of the 45 total weights my father collected overseas, from the 1970s until 2005, there are 37 in languages other than English.
The weights Spiller collected on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, where throngs of people go to shop, sit in public, people-watch, and while away the time, run the gamut from a rudimentary and well-used bent-steel ingot with its painted name La Visión, almost completely obliterated, to gorgeous heavily lacquered enamel and polished metal specimens from periodicals like ABC and El Mundo.
One of the heaviest weights in the collection is a 3 1/4 pound (1.5 kg) metal and plastic rectangle for the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, its colors reminiscent of Germany’s national flag. Less sophisticated weights made from blocks of wood in countries like Thailand and Venezuela reflect these nations’ less-industrialized position in the world, yet the New York Times has also used wooden weights, and other American publications, such as The National and BackStage have found it cost-effective to produce low-end particle board models.
In the late 20th century people in the United States bought, according to Thomas C. Leonard, “less than half as many newspapers per capita than the Japanese, the Finns, and the Swedes; the British and the Germans also were better customers”. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s 2009 Human Development Report, these six nationalities have the same 99% adult literacy rate, but New York City, perhaps because it is a great city for walking, seems to have the most newsstands and weights per capita in the world. Literacy is but one crucial factor in the sale of print media. Three other important factors in the prominence of newsstands and weights are a well-established culture of media advertising; locations within swarming transportation hubs where people have time to kill, or near heavily trafficked pedestrian areas (or in the case of Los Angeles, near slow-moving traffic jams); and a lively competition among an abundant array of publications. Despite the fact that Cubans are voracious consumers of news and boast an adult literacy tied for first in the world at 99.8 per cent, for example, politics on La Isla are such that news dealers are few and far between. One scantily stocked Havana news shanty opens on Sunday mornings only. Its lines are long, its newspapers are much in demand.
In Japan, newspapers and magazines are commonly sold at train stations and other relatively wind-free indoor or semi-sheltered locations. Publications are ordinarily kept in pristine condition until they are handed over to the customer. Outdoor newsstands are uncommon but some Japanese dealers put their publications in outdoor wire racks especially designed to obviate the need for weights.
The paperweight for The China Press (which goes by the name ‘Overseas Chinese Newspaper’ in Chinese) claims its “rich content” can “heal the homesickness of overseas Chinese” by allowing readers to “contact the feeling” of the mainland. No matter where they are published or distributed, newspapers and magazines provide a link to their land of origin.
Back in Manhattan, for many years, the place to find print journalism from near and far was Hotalings, also known as the Out of Town Newspaper Agency. Hotalings was often the only link between people in New York and their lands of birth. For many others it was the best place to look for jobs and news from outside Gotham. Its huge selection meant customers could find everything from Pravda to Paris Match to Polish Engineering. Founded in 1905, Hotalings newsstands were located over the years in various parts of Times Square, from teeming street corners to the former New York Times Building to a tourist information kiosk on Broadway and 46th Street. New York City’s ever-shifting demographics have long been paralleled by Hotalings’ clientele. “We don't get the crowds from the theater district anymore. People don't roam in Times Square like they used to. It used to be mostly Western Europeans or people interested in Europe,” said Arthur Hotaling, the founder’s grandson, in 1988. “Now we get a lot more people from Latin America and the third world.” Despite efforts in the 1990s to spruce up the store and expand its offerings, the 105-year-old business is today a wholesale-only operation.
The pageantry of print media is in flux. Single-copy sales are down and impulse purchases are more sporadic. Will newspapers and magazines go the way of buggy whips and coin-operated telephones? No one knows, but one thing’s certain – the cast-iron cameos known as newsstand paperweights will last a long time.
Submit your story by emailing ‘The Last Monitor’: [email protected]
'THE LAST STAR-LEDGER' AVAILABLE NOW! #4 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
(READ IT ON ISSUU)
Table of contents:
Picture Agent - Our singular picture agency: Haegue Yang (cover)
Media Habits: Nicoline van Harskamp
Focus: Collin Munn on 'The Last Newspaper's work 'Untitled' (2006) by Dash Snow
Feature: Latitudes on the 'The Last Newspaper's partner organisation StoryCorps & archive interview between journalist Ed Pierce and his grandson Scott Cole
Interview: 'Rank & File' Ignasi Aballí on his 'Lists' series
The Next Newspaper: Latitudes interview with Nick Mrozowski Creative Director of Portugal's newest newspaper 'i'
1989 Patricia Esquivias on…: Communism
'Dirt Sheet': Janine Armin's column
100 Years Ago...: 'The Tacoma Times' (Tacoma, Washington) 1903–1949, October 27, 1910.
Weekly cartoon strip: Francesc Ruiz
Advertising department: Ester Partegàs with Rob McKenzie
THE NEXT NEWSPAPER: i
Fresh from putting together a 40-page on-site weekend newspaper for the Society of News Designers conference in Denver – Michigan native Nick Mrozowski, the Creative Director of Portugal's newest newspaper, simply called 'i', stopped by 'The Last Star-Ledger' newsroom.
The Last Star-Ledger: Tell us about the origins of i [pronounced ‘ee’] – was there a lot of research done into what people wanted from a newspaper in 2009? Was it independently started?
Nick Mrozowski: The guys who launched the paper are seasoned pros in the Portuguese market. They've been directors of other newspapers so they're well-versed in the economy and business. i was started by a public-works construction company in Portugal. They happen to have a publishing branch – they publish regional newspapers – and wanted a national newspaper. Innovation Media Consulting, started in Spain, consulted on the editorial ideas and design before it launched. Even more than their knowledge or research of the market, they tried to create a newspaper based on their instincts and ideas that was totally different to anything else. The staff we hired is very young and capable of serious journalism, but with a lot of spirit, energy, and humor. That naturally found its way into the newspaper and because of that our audience is even younger than we initially thought. The newspaper has about 55 or 60 people in the newsroom now. I'm the sole art director, though I didn't design the initial project. The graphic model was done by Javier Errea, who is the most famous Spanish newspaper designer now. He just won the Society for News Design's Lifetime Achievement Award at forty-three years old! In the last fifteen years that his studio has been going, they've probably been involved with most of the newspapers in Spain and Portugal.
TLS-L: The design is obviously a critical part of the newspaper. To what degree did the staff have either design or press backgrounds which came together in its visual journalism?
NM: We have reporters and designers of different functions. My degree is in journalism, but I focused on design. In all the newspapers I have worked on, I've been asked as much to be an editor as a designer. Our newsroom at i is a total open-plan. We work in the same room without cubicles or dividers with zones designed for communication. In the center are the top editors and then spiraling out are the various news desks, designers, and photographers.
TLS-L: Is there a typical way an article is put together?
NM: An editor or reporter decides there is going to be a story about something. They would then come and speak to one of the designers about what they're going to have for the page. We have our own jargon for types of stories or design elements to make it faster. That's pretty standard. The thing we do that's a little bit different is how we start a page. Throughout the course of a day we change it a million times, not only because an article comes in longer or shorter, we change it because somebody has a new idea. There are five designers, one design editor, and myself for the design portion.
TLS-L: And you have 4 sections which are not at all based on traditional newspapers...
NM: i is 25 x 35 cm (9 8/10” x 13 8/10”) x with 48, 56 or 64 pages. It starts with ‘Opinion’ on the first four pages to get you thinking. The following short section ‘Radar’ is all the news you need to know from the last 24 hours in different formats: a few briefs, a portion of quotations, a photo that tells a story by itself, an info-graphic that has no text accompanying it. The big ‘Zoom’ section is more in depth, more analytical, with longer format, bigger stories, mostly two-page spreads. At the end we have a section called ‘Mais’ (meaning 'more') which has culture, sports, and lifestyle. We don't have this feeling that we need a 'national' or 'international' section with a set number of pages or stories with a certain length, the editing is much more fluid. Although we have developed some habits over time, nothing is set in stone. It changes from one hour to the next, making it harder to work but producing a better result. For some newspapers, it’s a way forward: to be more aggressive, not just in reporting, but in the way we think about how we report.
TLS-L: You must hear people talking about the decline of the traditional newspaper all the time?
NM: I see what's happening but I don't believe it. I think there are a lot more to come. They're going to change, they have to change, but it's good change. Obviously the internet is not going anywhere. We talk about it a lot in the industry. Everybody has different points of view and every couple of months there is a prevailing strategy, idea, or criticism. News used to be a printed newspaper – it's not anymore – but a newspaper isn't necessarily an online thing. I read the online version of the New York Times all the time in Lisbon because you can't buy it (you can only get the International Herald Tribune), so I read it in the morning before I go into work, I read it during the day.
TLS-L: Yet in a traditional newspaper you find things you wouldn't otherwise read.
NM: When I go online I read a lot of stories because there's little investment in clicking a link, if a headline caught my eye, or an illustration. Funnily enough, now that I’ve been reading the New York Times on printed format here these last days, I find it really strange to navigate as an object.
TLS-L: Can you give our news team any advice?
NM: A good newspaper should have texture and a feeling of some immediacy. Try to highlight the liveness of it. Save yourself one part each time and only do it in the last thirty minutes so you have no idea what it's going to be. Desperation is a reality of newspapers!
– Interview by Latitudes. Edited by Greg Barton.
+ images of i covers here.
'THE LAST REGISTER' AVAILABLE NOW! #3 issue of the 10 Latitudes-edited newspapers for 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, New Museum
(READ IT ON ISSUU)
October 20, 2010
Cover: ‘Exhibit: Exposed!’. Installing 'The Last Newspaper' wall text
Report: ‘Reaction Distraction’: Gwen Schwartz on the TLN talk with participating artists Nate Lowman, Aleksandra Mir and Sarah Charlesworth
Focus: Doryun Chong on TLN artist Adrian Piper’s Vanilla Nightmares (1986)
Media Habits: Dora García
Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin on truth and fiction
Picture Agent: Sergio Vega
The Next Newspaper: Paul Schmelzer on the American Independent News Network
Feature: ‘Broadcasting’, Joe Salzman on the representation of the journalists on TV
Exclusive interview: Latitudes with TLN cartoonist Francesc Ruiz
‘Patricia Esquivias on...The French Revolution’
100 Years Ago…: New York Tribune
Feature: ‘Hyphen-ated’ by Stephen Spretnjak
Photo essay: ‘Behind the Scenes’, Installing ‘The Last Newspaper’
Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Scratch Lottery’ by Francesc Ruiz
Advertising: Ester Partegàs with Adam Shecter
Barcelona-based artist Francesc Ruiz is creating ‘The Woods’, a specially-commissioned cartoon strip for the back cover of each of ‘The Last...’ newspapers. The Editors-in-Chief of ‘The Last Register’ caught up with him as he prepared for an exhibition in Cairo.
Latitudes: Is 'The Woods' a family, or is it a place?
Francesc Ruiz: They're kind of a family or a community, as well as a place. The name was inspired by the last part of François Truffaut’s 1966 film based on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. It’s set in a totalitarian society in which books have been made illegal and are being burned. A group of people go into hiding in the woods and decide to memorize great works of literature. They create a community that transmits books orally from generation to generation. Each of them incorporates a different book: there are five ‘Moby Dick’s, four ‘Don Quixote’s, and so on. It talks about the power of human knowledge to adapt to difficult and new situations, which is something that – although under a completely different perspective – is happening right now with the threat to printed matter and the adaptation of content to new formats. In ‘The Woods’ I'm using the city newsstand, magazines and newspapers, as a way of talking about different lifestyles, about specialization and ideology. I want to create a kind of masquerade ball in which everybody is represented or at least plays a role in the social architecture, something also very related to web 2.0 and platforms such as Facebook.
L: Where if anywhere do you draw the lines between art and design, or artists and designers?
FR: It’s all about self-consciousness and a critical perspective. As long as cultural object producers (which is what I consider both artists and designers to be) look at their work as something critically produced, to me it makes no sense to establish differences. Looking at it from a slightly different angle, someone asked me recently if I’d ever produced a ‘mainstream’ comic. I think comic books and design can be understood in different ways, just as both experimental cinema and popular cinema coexist. I try to work on the experimental side, but whether this work is read as art or not depends entirely on the context in which it’s received.
FR: Before the internet, newsstands were the closest thing we had to a web browsing experience. You could go there, buy specialist papers and magazines, check out the contacts sections, the classified ads, and see all the niches you could initiate yourself into. Through the printed press you were able to discover new things, it was the main knowledge distribution channel. With most of this now moving online the fetishistic element is not the same. Although there are some web-based attempts to create a similar interface to the newsstand, its visual power of the newsstand is unique. For me a newsstand is a form of information architecture, a superstructure or a special building with inhabitants that change periodically. It’s an amazing tool with which to analyse the world and contemporary society. The matter of what will happen to newsstands as printed material begins disappears is something that is already visible: they're converting into lottery card retail points, as well as beverage and snack stands. But maybe they will have a different use in the future? I'm thinking of creating ‘The Newsstand Museum’, a museum with different newsstands from different countries and periods. Every stand will show the content exactly as it was in a specific time and place. For example September 10, 2001.
L: Can you tell us more about the Philadelphia project you mentioned, made for the Philagrafika 2010?
L: What difficulties and luxuries has this very particular format of the serial cartoon strip present to you as an artist?
FR: I made a comic strip series with artist Pauline Fondevila in which we explored the bars of a city nearby Barcelona. Basically it was an autobiographical comic strip in wich we drew ourselves getting drunk and having adventures. We published forty different comic strips and they were published daily, the problem was that after a while the energy and the inspiration weren't there any more – and we had very bad hangovers! On the one hand it was very nice and a special format to play with in order to recreate worlds, but on the other you end up feeling a little like a slave to the daily production process. This ten week trial for ‘The Last Newspaper’ is a great period to develop another small universe – that's essentially what I'm trying to do. The weekly frequency is fine compared to a daily routine. I recently showed a daily comic strip for Creative Time Comics, but all of these projects need a lot of commitment.
– Interview by Latitudes, October 2010
Partegàs has recently exhibited at Christopher Grimes in Los Angeles and on the 21 October will open a show at Foxy Production, New York. Besides this two US galleries, Partegàs also works with NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona and Helga de Alvear, Madrid.
Images: Courtesy the artist. Photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org