Aleksandra Mir


Issue Magazine, #8, New York, Fall 2004
By Sarah Gavlak

The New York-based artist Aleksandra Mir's ability to bring together diverse groups of artists, writers, curators, scientists, astronauts, secretaries, engineers, doctors, and others under the guise of art is more than remarkable--it is her true art form. The stories behind how her ever-growing daisy chain of photographs, entitled HELLO, actually came together are just as interesting and integral to the final installations as the often bizarre and intriguing images themselves. Made on location and exhibited in Edinburgh, London, Trapholt, Bern, Sydney, San Francisco, and New York, the photographs link together everyone from the Pope to porn stars in a six-degrees-of-separation-like game. For it is the strange twists of fate and fascinating people that Mir meets during the exhaustive research that goes into her projects--which have included building a dirigible that will travel the world or creating a video epic in which the first woman lands on the moon--that make her not just a one-woman show like the majority of contemporary artists, but rather a collaborator par excellence.

One of her key comrades is the British curator Polly Staple. While Staple was the director of Cubitt, an artist-run space in London, the two produced their first project, Living and Loving No. 1: The Biography of D. C., a publication that was a "Hello within a Hello." The newspaper-sized color publication traced, in the same daisy-chain fashion as the bigger "Hello" pieces, the life of an ex-marine living in San Francisco, from his punk rock, mohawk-wearing days to his clean-shaven, military-style hairdo and all of the characters and situations in between.

Staple, who is now curator of artists' projects, events, and talks for the London-based Frieze Art Fair, has an amazing talent for facilitating artists' ideas. One such project was the construction of Paola Pivi's huge, interactive, indoor grass slope sculpture at the Frieze fair and the staging of Johanna Billing's live music event You Don't Love Me Yet! Only 30 years old, Staple understands the notion of the world being a gallery for artists to produce public works, perform, protest, and party, if they like. And, in fact, her second collaboration with Mir did all four. Pink Tank is a project for which they painted an abandoned WWII tank parked in South London a camouflage pink. The comrades then struck a proud pose in front of the "sculpture," declaring it a piece of collaborative "summer art," a gesture defeating the academic pressures and political tensions of the art world proper. Nevertheless, the project brought an onslaught of commentary from passersby, ranging from cheery local support to angry claims that they had ripped off David Cerny's gesture Pink Prague tank of 1991. Their war continues on all fronts. Stay tuned.