'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