At the Mary Boone Gallery now is an exhibition that sounds, well, very good. In Newsroom: 1986 – 2000, artist Aleksandra Mir turns the gallery into her own newsdesk, churning out on a daily basis repurposed headlines and spreads that showed up in local papers from the above-mentioned years.
In the words of Mir herself:
News becomes history as soon as it is reported. What fascinates me in talking about history is the paradoxical movement backwards while obviously propelling ahead with a story into the future. The 15-year time period covered in this show is of a recent past, a past that still unites many New Yorkers in recognition of a city at once familiar and long gone.
The NYC tabloids New York Daily News and New York Post serve as practical tools that unite the population around shared joys and fears; they help spread the city’s gossip and form its identity. Whether one buys them or not, a glance at the headlines while passing by a deli or waiting for a bus is enough to be connected to the diverse masses that make up their readership. Never mind if what is reported is mostly disaster or scandal. In retrospect, news before 9/11/2001 makes this megalopolis look like a quaint town full of petty crooks, with this accident or that occasional murder resulting in the loss of a single life. A rape in Central Park and a love triangle on Long Island were the two longest running news stories of New York in the 15 years leading up to the end of the millennium.
By remediating these printed works as hand-crafted images, Mir imbues the original with the heavily (and heavily-apparent) subjective that is often so ignored by readers of the original. Everything about the process and product of Mir’s work serves to accentuate what is the true method of newsmaking, allowing its hypermediation here to serve as the primary commentary on it and indictment against it.
And, yet, this all seems to be beyond critic Roberta Smith’s point of tolerance:
I’m all for artistic license, but this may be may be taking a few too many liberties with our memories, or, failing that, the front-page form. After “Money,” Ms. Mir hopes to show series on food poisoning and on AIDS and then end the exhibition next Saturday on a high note: sports triumphs.
Oh, good, I’m glad to see that the leading art critic for the NY Times is “all for artistic license.” So pleased she fulfilled that prerequisite. And it doesn’t seem to be a mite unusual at all that a woman writing for a newspaper might feel threatened by a critique on the medium through which she speaks.
Horror! Gasp! Scandal!