Coinciding with the end of our New Museum editorial project we'd like to share these great shots of what has been our working space during the past 10 weeks at the New Museum: our micro-newsroom during the night. The photos have been taken by New Museum night guard and photographer Steven Slawinski during the third week of our editorial residency – when 'The Last Register' (#3) was the newspaper of the week.We would like to thank Steven for sharing his archive, and to New Museum guard Carol Fassler for putting us in touch.
We would like to express our thanks to everyone at the New Museum. Thank you to Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director, and The Last Newspaper co-curators Richard Flood, Director of Special Projects and Curator at Large, and Benjamin Godsill, Curatorial Associate, for hosting us and inviting us to collaborate in this expansive and timely project. Our sincere gratitude and praise are due to Richard and Benjamin for their support and trust and for the brave exhibition whose works have become our local community. Thank you to Joshua Edwards, Exhibitions Manager and Shannon Bowser, Chief Preparator for sharing expertise on producing Luciano Fabro’s Pavimiento-Tautologia. Praise is due to Desiree B. Ramos, Curatorial Fellow; Eungie Joo, Keith Haring Director & Curator of Education & Public Programs; Cris Scorza, Manager of Tours and Family Programs and Joseph Keehn II, Associate Educator; to Gabriel Einsohn, Communications Officer and Annie Wachnicki, Marketing Manager for their help in many ways. We are most grateful to each of the inspiring New Museum guards and guides for their support and interest in our weekly progress and for taking care of our working space. We would like to express our gratitude to Marta Rincón and Eloisa Ferrari for securing the financial support offered by The State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX), which has made it possible for us be in New York during these months. The graphic design of the newspapers has been an absolutely critical element to the tone of the project and we salute Chad Kloepfer and Joel Stillman, who have been so generous with their time and incredible talent in establishing the visual identity of The Last... newspapers, and in giving up their weekends laying them out. Thank you to Daniel Thiem, Retail Operations Manager at the New Museum, for taking care of the afterlife of this print adventure, and to Tammy Lin at Linco Printing for making the printing and delivery run smoothly. Sharing the third floor of the New Museum with the other partner organizations has been a memorable experience and we are particularly appreciative of Alan Rapp as well as Virginia Millington and Natalia Fidelholtz – our temporary neighbors at the New City Reader and StoryCorps respectively. The project would also not have been possible without the assistance of our news team, who have been crucial in their dedication and good humor, and in toiling late hours, and while juggling other commitments, in writing sterling words. Kudos to Editor-at-Large Janine Armin, to Greg Barton, Irina Chernyakova, Collin Munn and Gwen Schwartz. We would also like to highlight the generous contributions of Adam Chadwick, Julienne Lorz, Andrew Losowsky and our London correspondent Lorena Muñoz-Alonso. We have been pleased to have been able to involve an incredible network of writers, curators, artists and journalists that week after week have graced, and been splashed over, the pages of 'The Last...' Visual artist Francesc Ruiz, project cartoonist with his series ‘The Woods’, and our advertising department, artist Ester Partegàs, we thank especially for their amazing work and for their stamina in signing up to the weekly deadlines. We are indebted to all of the participating artists and organizations as well as many other individuals for their efforts, for having trusted our editorial skills and for having given time and contributions pro bono – Ignasi Aballí; Lars Bang Larsen; Judith Bernstein; Dara Birnbaum; Pierre Bismuth; Andrea Bowers; Fernando Bryce; Luis Camnitzer; Sarah Charlesworth; Emily Cheeger; Doryun Chong; City-As-School class; Ana Paula Cohen; Scott Cole; Christine Cooper; Holly Coulis; Marc d'Andre; Chris Dercon; Patricia Esquivias; Jacob Fabricius; Luciano Figueiredo; Angela Freiberger; Jason Fry; Simon Fujiwara; Dora García; Martin Gran; Hans Haacke; Ilana Halperin; Rick Herron; Ridley Howard; Marcel Janco; Adrià Julià; Maria Loboda; Nate Lowman; Renzo Martens; Rob McKenzie; Simone Menegoi; Aleksandra Mir; Rodrigo Moura; Nick Mrozowski; Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere; Sophie O'Brien; Damián Ortega; Alona Pardo; Amalia Pica; Michalis Pichler; Ed Pierce; Peter Piller; William Pope L.; Michael Rakowitz; Christian Rattemeyer; Yasmil Raymond; Kolja Reichert; Mauro Restiffe; Kathleen Ritter; Kirstine Roepstroff; Julia Rometti & Victor Costales; David Salle; Mike Santisteven; Joe Saltzman; Ines Schaber; Paul Schmeltzer; Charity Scribner; Manuel Segade; Adam Shecter; Harley Spiller; Stephen Spretnjak; Alexandra Tarver; Mi Tijo; Wolfgang Tillmans; Rirkrit Tiravanija; Nicoline van Harskamp; Pablo Vargas Lugo; Sergio Vega; Marie Voignier; Mark von Schlegell; Haegue Yang; Carey Young; Sarah Wang; Warren Webster; and Jordan Wolfson. Thanks too the New Museum Facebook and Twitter contributors: aodt; Kristi Collom; Michele Corriel; djnron; Isadora Ficovic; A.J. Fries; Rachel Elise Greiner; Sioux Jordan; Eleanor Martineau; Acht Millimeter; Sofia Pontén; Jenny Pruden; Bonnie Severien; Kate Shafer; Liz Shores; Goso Tominaga; and Anne Wölk. We would also like to thank those who have helped us obtain images or permission to reprint texts: Barbican Art Centre, London; Edoardo Bonaspetti, Mousse magazine; Bugada & Cargnel, Paris; Janine Iamunno, patch.com; Nick Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com; Jeff Khonsary, Fillip; Lisa Middag at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; kurimanzutto; Michele Robecchi; Benoit Pailley; Peres Projects, Berlin; Katie Sokolor/Gothamist. – Latitudes (Max Andrews & Mariana Cánepa Luna), December 2010. Excerpted from 'FROM THE EDITORS’ DESK – Last words, clarifications, frequently asked questions, and thanks from Latitudes' originally published in 'The Last Newspaper' catalogue.
Latitudes' 10-week editorial residency at the New Museum has come to an end! Below photos of each of the 10 weekly newspapers we have published and that has been available every Wednesday from the museum galleries.
The Last Post (#1): See contents and learn about Dara Birnbaum's Media Habits here
The Last Gazette (#2): See contents and read a focus text by Julienne Lorz on Hans Haacke's Newshere
The Last Register (#3): See contents and read an exclusive interview with visual artist Francesc Ruiz here
The Last Star-Ledger (#4): See contents and read an exclusive interview with Portugal's newest newspaper's Creative Director, Nick Mrozowski here
The Last Monitor (#4): See contents and read an read about the history of newspapers' paperweights here
The Last Observer (#6): See contents and read an exclusive interview with Wolfgang Tillmans here
The Last Evening Sun (#7): Read contents and a text on Luciano Fabro's work 'Pavimento–Tautologia' here
The Last Journal (#8): See contents and read an exclusive interview with Rirkrit Tiravanija here The Last Times (#9): See contents and read Pablo Vargas Lugo's Picture Agent contribution here The Last Express (#10): See contents and read the report on the 27 November talk between filmmaker Adam Chadwick and web veteran Jason Fry here.
Each of 'The Last...' has been edited and freely distributed from a micro-newsroom on the New Museum's third-floor gallery space.
The final catalogue compilation includes over 100 contributors’ articles and exclusiveinterviews with participating artists as well astexts and special features concerning an expanded selection of individuals and organisations whose work addresses the news, the medium of the newspaper and their evolving form and function.
The catalogue will soon be available from the New Museum's Store for $15. More details to follow on the European distribution – see update here. The exhibition continues at the New Museum until 9 January 2011.
Table of contents of the 10 issues:
Issue 1: The Last Post October 6, 2010 Cover: ‘Ink vs Link’. Press Room of The Richmond Planet, c. 1899 Editorial: ‘Welcome to The Last Post, The Last Gazette, The Last Register...’ by Latitudes Picture Agent (Our singular picture agency): Kirstine Roepstorff Media Habits: Dara Birnbaum Exclusive Interview: ‘Double Trouble’, Lorena Muñoz-Alonso interviews TLN artist Pierre Bismuth Feature: ‘Lights, Camera...Banality’, Kolja Reichert on Marie Voignier’s Hearing the Shape of a Drum (2010) ‘Working with Utopians’ by Richard Flood and Benjamin Godsill The Next Newspaper (Profiling the organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals redefining ink-and-paper news): ProPublica Fit to Print: ‘The (L.A.) Times it is A-Changin’ by Adam Chadwick 100 Years Ago…: The Salt Lake Herald-Republican Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Teen Balls’ by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs with Rob McKenzie
Issue 2: The Last Gazette October 13, 2010 Cover: ‘Sorry for the Metaphor’. Special cover by Amalia Pica (and page 3) Editorial: ‘34 People Like This’ by Latitudes Focus: ‘A system is not imagined, it is real’, Julienne Lorz on TLN artist Hans Haacke’s News (1969/2008) Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin on the newspaper-as-catalogue Picture Agent: Ilana Halperin The Next Newspaper: Clay Shirky Photo essay: ‘Picture Mining’ by Ines Schaber Obituary: ‘Sorry we’re dead’, Andrew Losowsky on TLN artist Adam McEwen’s Untitled (Caster) (2010) Fit to Print: Adam Chadwick on hyperlocal citizen journalism 100 Years Ago…: Daily Public Ledger In Brief: ‘Sac Bee Cuts’ Media Habits: Luis Camnitzer Infographic: ‘U.S. Gazettes: Average Circulation’ by Irina Chernyakova Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Money’ by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Issue 3: The Last Register October 20, 2010 Cover: ‘Exhibit: Exposed!’. Installing TLN 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
Issue 4: The Last Star-Ledger October 27, 2010 Cover & Picture Agent: Special cover by Haegue Yang (and page 12) Exclusive interview: ‘Rank and File’, Latitudes interviews Ignasi Aballí Focus: ‘A Newspaper is Never Complete, Because News is Never Complete’, Interview with Ed Pierce from the archive of TLN partner organization StoryCorps + ‘StoryCorps Key Facts’ Focus: ‘Execution, Ejaculation, Exhibition’, Collin Munn on TLN artist Dash Snow’s Untitled (2006) The Next Newspaper: Latitudes interviews Nick Mrozowsky about i Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin on TLN artist François Bucher ‘Patricia Esquivias on... Communism’ 100 Years Ago…: The Tacoma Times Media Habits: Nicoline van Harskamp Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Specialization’ by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs with Rob McKenzie
Issue 5: The Last Monitor November 3, 2010 Cover: ‘Today & Yesterday’. Gustav Metzger, Eichmann and the Angel, 2005 Exclusive interview: ‘Eating the Wall Street Journal’, Janine Armin with TLN artist William Pope.L Feature: ‘Today and Yesterday’, Sophie O’Brien on Gustav Metzger Picture Agent: Jordan Wolfson The Next Newspaper: The San Francisco Panorama by Irina Chernyakova Fit to Print: Adam Chadwick on the digital divide 100 Years Ago…: The Bisbee Daily Review Media Habits: Mark von Schlegell Focus: ‘Who Framed Sarah Charlesworth?’, Marcel Janco on TLN artist Sarah Charlesworth Readers’ Lives: ‘Paper-Weight Champion’ by Harley Spiller Feature: ‘Heralding the Gizmo’, Max Andrews on Kirstine Roepstorff Readers’ Lives: ‘My Name is Marc D’Andre and I’m a Newspaper Addict’ Infographic: Facebook poll: where do @NewMuseum followers get their news? Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Tools’ by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs with Holly Coulis and Ridley Howard
Issue 6: The Last Observer November 10, 2010 Cover: ‘Truth Study?’. Installation view of Wolfgang Tillmans Truth Study Center (NY) (2010) Exclusive interview: ‘Is this True or Not?’, Lorena Muñoz-Alonso with TLN artist Wolfgang Tillmans Focus: ‘There’s not Enough Rage These Days’, Greg Barton & Collin Munn on TLN artist Judith Bernstein Picture Agent: Renzo Martens Media Habits: City-as-School Students Feature: ‘Relationship Status’ by Manuel Segade Focus: ‘‘Old News’ to me’ by Lars Bang Larsen + ‘Nothing New About Old News’ Feature: ‘Editorial Curatorial’ by Marcel Janco The Next Newspaper: Patch. Andrew Losowsky interviews Warren Webster, company president Report: Irina Chernyakova on the ‘Perpetual Peace Project’ of TLN partner the Slought Foundation Fit to Print: Adam Chadwick on The Huffington Post 100 years Ago…: The News-Herald Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Backcover’ by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Issue 7: The Last Evening Sun November 17, 2010 Cover: 'Without Rain Partial Nights Aerial Days'. Special cover by Julia Rometti & Victor Costales (and page 12) Feature: ‘Translating Rubble’, Kathleen Ritter on Mark Manders Focus: ‘Floor Tautology’, Simone Menegoi on TLN artist Luciano Fabro’s Pavimento–Tautologia (1967) + ‘Fabricating Fabro’ by Shannon Bowser Special pull-out poster: Installation pictures, checklist of TLN + ‘Your week in Headlines’ by New Museum Facebook and Twitter followers Feature: 'Thomas Hirschhorn ♥ Queens', Charity Scribner on TLN artist Thomas Hirschhorn Feature: 'Red and black all over, again' Irina Chernyakova interviews The Last... newspapers’ designer Chad Kloepfer Focus: TLN project Jeffrey Inaba/C-Lab’s Cloudy with a chance of Certainty (2010) + ‘C-What?’ by Greg Barton Media Habits: Michael Rakowitz The Next Newspaper: WikiLeaks Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin at the Taipei and the Gwangju Biennials Picture Agent: Maria Loboda Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Flavor of the month’ by Francesc Ruiz 100 Years Ago…: Palestine Daily Herald Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Issue 8: The Last Journal November 24, 2010 Cover: ‘Le Petit Journal’. Fernando Bryce, from the series L'Humanité (2009–2010) Feature: 'L'Humanité', Yasmil Raymond on Fernando Bryce Report: 'Independent Gazette', Lorena Muñoz-Alonso on The Independent by Damián Ortega and Can Altay’s The Church Street Partners' Gazette + Damián Ortega talks with Alona Pardo Media Habits: Ester Partegàs Brazil Focus: 'The Imaginery Newspaper', Chris Dercon on Luciano Figueiredo + ‘Jornal da Cidade’, Ana Paula Cohen on 28b Focus: 'Boetti e His Double', Christian Rattemeyer on TLN artist Alighiero e Boetti's Corriere Della Sera (1976) The Next Newspaper: Crowd Sourcing – spot.us / emphas.is, by Irina Chernyakova Exclusive interview: 'The Days of This Society...', Desiree B. Ramos interviews TLN artist Rirkrit Tiravanija Focus: 'Paper view' Gwen Schwartz with New Museum visitors Focus: 'What's CUP?', on TLN partner organization The Center for Urban Pedagogy, by Gwen Schwartz and Max Andrews Picture Agent: Adrià Julià Focus: '29 Days Later', Sarah Wang on Larry Johnson’s TLN work Untitled Green Screen Memory (2010) + ‘2009 California Fires’ by Collin Munn Cartoon: 'The Woods: Creation' by Francesc Ruiz 100 Years Ago...: The Marion Daily Mirror Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Issue 9: The Last Times December 1, 2010 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’, Mike Santistevan on Mike Kelley Picture Agent: Pablo Vargas Lugo 100 Years Ago…: The Seattle Star The Next Newspaper: Web aggregation, by Irina Chernyakova Focus: ‘Sarah’s Sex Sport-Trait’, Lorena Muñoz-Alonso on 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', Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere on their work for TLN + Mark Twain’s ‘Amended Obituaries’ (1902) Focus and exclusive interview: ‘Graphite Testimony’, Greg Barton on Andrea Bowers’ 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 Cartoon: 'The Woods: Fahrenheit 451' by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs
Issue 10: The Last Express December 8, 2010 Cover: Hans Haacke, News (1969/2008) Exclusive interview: ‘I’m still nostalgic vis-à-vis image-making’, Rodrigo Moura interviews Mauro Restiffe Dirt Sheet: Janine Armin on TLN participant Dexter Sinister’s The First/Last Newspaper (2009) Report: 'Fit to Print?: The newsroom reinvented', Latitudes reports on the New Museum talk between Adam Chadwick and Jason Fry 100 Years Ago...: Los Angeles Herald Focus: ‘Blu Dot: What?’, Gwen Schwartz and Mariana Cánepa Luna on TLN partner organization Blu Dot The Next Newspaper: The Daily, by Irina Chernyakova Focus: ‘Do you like milk and honey?’, Greg Barton on TLN artist Emily Jacir’s Sexy Semite (2000-2) Picture Agent: Simon Fujiwara Media Habits: Michalis Pichler Feature: ‘Embrace the Ambiguity’, TLN co-curators Richard Flood and Benjamin Godsill reflect on the exhibition Focus: ‘Reading the Reader’, Greg Barton and Irina Chernyakova on TLN partner organisation NetLab’s the New City Reader Exclusive interview: ‘The Wires’, Janine Armin interviews TLN artist Hans Haacke Cartoon: 'The Woods: The End' by Francesc Ruiz Advertising: Ester Partegàs
New York, NY 10002, USA Wednesday 11-6 pm; Thursday 11-9pm; Friday-Sunday 11-6 pm; Monday and Tuesday closed http://www.newmuseum.org
ONGOING... Latitudes' editorial residency as part of 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition at the New Museum has just concluded (see photos of the newspaper here + documentation archive here. The exhibition however, continues until 9 January 2011.
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
27 November 2010: Public gathered for the talk on the 4th floor's 'Peace Arena'.
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 of 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.
Jason Fry during the talk
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...
Adam Chadwick during the talk
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 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 the TV.
Public watching the trailer of 'Fit to print' screened at the beginning for the talk.
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 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 a blogger or freelancer no matter how smart or committed you are. I wonder if that kind of reporting has to be done institutionally though.
The public gathered for the talk on the 4th floor's 'Peace Arena'.
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.
Carmen Cusido during the talk
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 the 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 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 the non-profit model work? It does right now – but for how long?
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 Newspaper' Discussion Event 'Fit to Print?: The newsroom reinvented' Saturday 27 November 2010, 3pm 4th floor, New Museum, 235 Bowery Free with general admission ticket. In the context of 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition, partner organization Latitudes has organised a conversation about 'the next newspaper' between Adam Chadwick and Jason Fry, both leading experts in the field of the probable fate of the traditional newspaper, and the possible future of journalism online. The conversation will take place in the 4th floor of the museum. Adam Chadwick is a scriptwriter, producer, filmmaker – and former copy-editor at The New York Times – who is currently working on 'Fit to Print', a documentary about the current upheaval in the U.S. newspaper industry. He has previously been a contributing blogger for IFC.com, IndieProducer.net and CityLightsMedia.com. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005 with a degree in film. http://fittoprintfilm.com and his blog http://fittoprintfilm.wordpress.com/
Jason Fry is a Web veteran exploring the challenges faced by newspapers in the digital world. He spent nearly 13 years at The Wall Street Journal Online, where he was a columnist, editor and projects guy. Since leaving the Journal, Fry has consulted with leading news organizations working for EidosMedia, an innovative maker of cross-media editing-and-publishing software. http://jasonfry.wordpress.com/ and http://www.reinventingthenewsroom.com/
Jason Fry and Adam Chadwick were joined by Carmen Cusido, a staff reporter for The Trenton Times and a recent graduate of Columbia Universities Graduate School for Journalism.
A report of the talk is published in 'The Last Express', available between 8–12 December 2010 from the New Museum galleries. 'The Last Express' will be the final weekly newspaper edited by Latitudes as part of their contribution to the 'The Last Newspaper' exhibition.
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
Above and below: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled (the days of this society is numbered/September 15–October 12, 2008), 2010. Acrylic and newspaper on linen. 13 parts, all measuring 86 1/8 x 84 1/8 x 1 inch each. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brownʼs enterprise.
There I am; it’s 5pm sharp, and I have just arrived at Gavin Brown’s newly-expanded Meatpacking District art gallery. I’m checking out the new space while I wait for Rirkrit, who suddenly pulls up around the back door with a few groceries; turns out he’s cooking a paella dinner for a few friends. We walk around the space for a few minutes and before heading towards the kitchen in the back of the gallery. There I see a few art handlers setting up pots, tables, and chairs for Rirkrit’s guests. “We don’t have much time, fire away,” he says, looking at the recorder and the paper I am holding in my hands. We sit on a wooden bench and start our conversation. I have met with Rirkrit several times, and besides being a great artist he is really down to earth and approachable. Every time I talk to him it is quite a busy scenario all around.
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 counsellor 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 artefacts. I worked on this conceptual work with the idea that these artefacts 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 every day, 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 manoeuvre 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 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.
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
FLOOR TAUTOLOGY 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.”
Newspaper placed on top of the mopped floor. Photo: Latitudes
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
Installation view of Luciano Fabro's Pavimento-Tautologia (1967) on the 4th floor of the New Museum. 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 TheNew 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.
Issue 6: 'The Last Observer' (READ IT ON ISSUU) Table of contents: Cover: 'Truth Study?', Wolfgang Tillmans' 'Truth Study Center (NY)', 2010 Feature: London correspondent Lorena Muñoz-Alonso meets Wolfgang Tillmans whose table top installation 'Truth Study Center' is featured in 'The Last Newspaper' Focus: Greg Barton & Collin Munn pay a visit to Judith Bernstein, who presents 'The Last Newspaper' visitors with two works from 1967 Picture Agent - Our singular picture agency: Renzo Martens Media Habits: City-as-School Students Feature: Curator and writer Manuel Segade – who opened his Facebook account four years ago and now has 872 friends– comments on the profile of the 'click self' Feature: Art Historian and curator Lars Bang Larsen went to high school with Jacob Fabricius, the fellow Dane behind the non-profit free newspaper 'Old News', featured in 'The Last Newspaper' Feature: Editorial Curatorial. ‘The Last Post’, ‘The Last Gazette’, ‘The Last Register’, ‘The Last Star-Ledger’, ‘The Last Monitor’ and now ‘The Last Observer’ have set out in part to address the role of the curator versus the role of the editor. Our Cluj-Napoca correspondent Marcel Janco takes up the story. The Next Newspaper: Patch. Andrew Losowsky interviews Warren Webster, company president Focus: Irina Chernyakova on the 'Perpetual Peace Project’ of ‘The Last Newspaper’ partner organization the Slought Foundation. Fit to Print: Adam Chadwick attempts to get in touch with 'The Huffington Post' founder for his documentary film about the news industry. 100 years Ago…: 'The News-Herald' (Hillsboro, Highland Co., Ohio) 1886-1973 (changed title to 'The Hillsboro Press-Gazette' (1973-1985), November 10, 1910. Cartoon: ‘The Woods: Backcover’ by Francesc Ruiz ‘Advertising Department’: Ester Partegàs
IS THIS TRUE OR NOT? ‘The Last Observer’ London correspondent Lorena Muñoz-Alonso meets Wolfgang Tillmans, whose table top installation ‘Truth Study center’ is featured in ‘The Last Newspaper’.
A door buzzer is activated on a busy street of East London on a rainy Saturday evening; I push and find myself in Between Bridges, the non-profit gallery space Wolfgang Tillmans opened in 2006 to show artists that “are overlooked in the London scene”. (The current exhibition is by Gerd Arntz, a fairly unknown German artist and activist of the Weimar era.) I climb the spiral staircase to the studio and Tillmans welcomes me upstairs and offers me tea. He is tired but talkative, having just returned from Nottingham, where he has been installing his works for the British Art Show 7. His studio is a huge open space, full of desks and wooden tables, where newspapers and magazines pile under the neon lights. “Last year at the Venice Biennale I had four table works. And I had a whole room table installation (Space, Food, Religion, 2010) at the Serpentine Gallery show. But having The Last Newspaper and the Nottingham show opening in the space of three weeks has reactivated the Truth Study center project in a very significant way”, he says while pointing to the build-up of world-wide printed media that towers on every surface of the studio.
Lorena Muñoz-Alonso: What is or are the origins of your Truth Study Center works?
Wolfgang Tillmans: The project started in 2005 with a show in London at Maureen Paley which coincided with the publication of my third book for Taschen, also titled Truth Study center. It was a contradiction, somehow, because the contents of the book had nothing to do with the tables. That first show included sixteen tables. Then, in 2006, I had a big mid-career survey in the U.S., a show that toured between Chicago, Los Angeles and Mexico City which included a twenty-four-table installation. In 2007 I had a show at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover where I showed thirty tables, which then become part of the exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. So there have been two very big installations so far. The U.S. installation was altered from city to city; I was adding and adapting the contents depending on the context.
LM-A: So the way you can work on the tables is quite quick and reactive?
WT: Yes, pretty much. The tour was a year and a half long, and they were heady times in the American political arena, so it was interesting being able to incorporate all that to the work. There was a particular piece that was then published in The Guardian called ‘Ten easy steps for a fascist America’ by Naomi Wolf – a very heavy statement indeed. It was very striking and beautifully illustrated, so I made a table incorporating that on the spot. That table piece is again in The Last Newspaper exhibition. Americans don’t really like foreigners to criticise them. They are good at self-criticism, but the moment it’s a foreigner who does it, they can get defensive. But Wolf is American, so that couldn’t be accused of coming from European prejudices.
LM-A: How did you begin the process of incorporating the table as a new element in the vocabulary of your practice?
WT: It actually started in 1995 with a show at Portikus in Frankfurt where I used five flat cabinets to show images I had published in magazines. Also in the Turner Prize show in 2000 I used the same idea of laying out elements on a flat horizontal surface, so it was already settling within my practice then. While I was editing the Truth Study center book I came to this really obvious realisation that all my work happens on a table. A table provides a space for a loose arrangement, where things are laid out in a certain way, but can be easily rearranged. On a wall, you have to pin or tape the stuff, but a table is more fluid. There is clarity and complete contingency at the same time.
LM-A: And why did you start using newspapers as a raw material in your work?
WT: I had worked with found newspapers before, in the ‘Soldiers’ series (1999). I have to confess I am a bit of a newspaper junkie and have collected them since childhood. I often think that a day’s newspaper contains the essence of the whole world. But I guess that around 2002–2004, the years post 9/11, a clearer picture of the world we live in emerged – all the insanity that surrounded us – after what had seemed like the less politically charged 1990s. I was enraged and concerned and spending a lot of time reading media and thinking about all these different claims to the truth, ‘the big truth’ which was the ultimate justification behind all that violence and those wars. I realised that all the problems that the world faces right now arise from men claiming to possess absolute truths.
Detail of Truth Study Center (NY), 2010. Wood, glass, and mixed media.
WT: Of course it would be very desirable to have a completely neutral ‘Truth Study center’, but that will never be possible. So even though it has this big title, it is not claiming to be delivering truth, but rather looking at all these different, opposed truths. But it is not at all saying that everything is relative or subjective. I do think there are certain truths that are not negotiable, that some events and attitudes are wrong, and I am straightforward about in the work, which I think is precisely what makes it interesting. It takes a moral stand on the one hand, but on the other is always aware of its absurdity and of its extreme limitations. So it presents all these issues, like the impact of AIDS denial in Africa or the question of the existence or not of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – the whole war came about from a single question: is this true or not?
LM-A: Are the tables fixed in their arrangements and subjects?
WT: The tables are, or can be, pieces in their own right. They do not always have to come in the same installations. But it’s the same as with a wall installation when I think a grouping really works, I try to maintain it. But the working process is quite flexible and not set in stone. LM-A: So you color–photocopy all the newspaper that are on the tables, which is already a process of translation in itself…
WT: Very much so. That is the essential part of the visual composition because we have been talking a lot about content but of course, if the table works were not interesting to look at, they wouldn’t have an artistic justification. I use the color photocopy because of aesthetic reasons, but also because the color copy is amazingly permanent, as opposed to the newspaper. I couldn’t use the original newspaper cause it wouldn’t look good after a year. But media-wise there are also real things, like a lottery ticket, a bus ticket, a vegetable wrapper…
LM-A: You have a very strong relationship to printed matter. You have even said: “Everything I do happens on paper”, which I think is a simple but very meaningful realisation, with a lot of implications...
WT: I have a double interest in The Last Newspaper show. Not only do I use newspapers and magazines as material, but also my work is heavily featured in printed media and I use media as both generator and distributor of my work.
LM-A: What are the main subjects of your tables are in The Last Newspaper?
WT: There is one table about soldiers and war, one about religion, another about the depiction of war, games and violence on the internet. I also have some images of airlines and the experience of flying and there is one about Americans’ attitudes to food. There are a lot of critical messages there, but you could find all of them in very mainstream publications. Information and criticality is there for everyone, which is also one of the issues I want to highlight in this work.
LM-A: Is this series your outlet for political expression?
WT: There is definitely a bit of that. I use these works to make statements on subjects that I feel very strongly about but that I can’t or don’t want to tackle in my photographs. At the same time, though, the reason why I started to work with images from the very beginning was that I wanted to be involved with what was going on the world. Questions of taste or of beauty have always been politically charged for me. Do you find two men kissing disgusting or beautiful? That is a question of aesthetics but also of politics. I’ve always had this very strong awareness that every freedom that I enjoy as a gay person has been hard fought for by many people before me, and that gave me a great sense of public responsibility. I think every person counts. I might be very traditional in that sense, but I really think it does matter.
e-flux (artists Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda) began Time / Bank in 2009, with the "hope to create an immaterial currency and a parallel micro-economy for the cultural community, one that is not geographically bound, and that will create a sense of worth for many of the exchanges that already take place within our field." Previously presented during Frieze 2009, the project is now being presented in New York, with a store located on the ground level of 41 Essex Street. Based on existing time banks such as Paul Glover's 1991 initiative in Ithaca, New York, e-flux's Time / Bank "will allow individuals to request, offer, and pay for services in Hour Notes" (designed by Lawrence Weiner and issued in half, one, six, twelve and twenty-four hour denominations). "When a task is performed, the credit hours earned may be saved and used at a later date, given to another person, or contributed towards developing larger communal projects." Members can obtain Hour Notes by opening an account and earning hour credits by helping others. On the website listings are organised under categories such as Handy Works, Communication, Organization, Education, General Assistance, Transportation, Food, etc. Quotes taken from http://www.e-flux.com/timebank/