Aleksandra Mir

Artists Books: Fandom

Art Monthly, #261, London, Nov 2002
By Bruce Haines

Aleksandra Mir's The Biography of D. C. is a glossy tabloid magazine, the first in what appears to be a series title 'Living & Loving'. Mir met C while at CCAC campus, San Francisco. As Manager of Public Safety at the time, he responds to a call from Mir and ends up telling her about a life which began inauspiciously enough in foster cares. Recounting his fractured childhood, punk adolescence and spell in the army, C accumulated an impressive number of girlfriends (over 50) before getting married, having an intense troubled affair, and a divorce. Facsimiles of documents include numerous photographs of C growing up; the football team; the model girlfriend Candice represented by her portfolio images (34-24-34); graphic documentation of C's punk-goth phase, and explicit images taken form a video of Mizuho, his most pernicious girlfriend, yet typically the one for whom he feels the greatest loss. The stories are told through an informal interview between Mir and C, the punctuations and non-linearity of real time interviews captured and unedited. If showing an interest is akin to the beginnings of fandom then Mir certainly succeeds in temporarily garnering undue interest in C's extraordinary short history—he is only 28 years old—by her readers.

Mir's second publication is in a densely packed tabloid newspaper in the format of the Daily News, 'New York's Hometown Newspaper'. Published for September 11, 2002, this is a joint memorial to 9'11 and Mir's 35th birthday.

In the wake of the first anniversary of September 11th, Mir's open editorial policy sets an unmediated approach to the column inches sent in by her constituency of friends and friends of friends. The vast volume of material includes poems, interviews, illustrations, photographs, faux adverts and pseudo news items. Various contributions provide historical contexts such as an account of skyjackings in the 70's or Alighiero e Boetti's series of stamps celebrating the end of the Afghan monarchy in the 70's (in the wake of the American invasion, restoration of the monarchy has been considered). The centre spread is Minoru Yamamsaki's architectural elevation of the Twin Towers.

As one would expect of a personal tribute to oneself at the artist/author's terms of invitation, photographs sometimes include the protagonists in Mir's world. She uses the opportunity to include some of the esoteric communication captured during her transformation of the Pink Tank in South London. This was a collaborative camouflaging of a tank in pink paint by Mir with Polly Staple, Nina Manandhar, Shama Khanna and Alia Mirza, parked ('until further notice') at the corner of Pages Walk and Mandela Way in Bermondsey, SE1. The two enterprises could be described as generous reclamations of what was previously lost. A tank laid up for as long as anyone could remember made visible again through its appropriation as a public artwork and Mir's Daily News reclaiming September 11th for herself, the 200 or so contributors, and all her readers.

If there is an overarching message over and above the events that overshadowed Mir's birthday, it is hope for the future that birthdays tend to herald, as reflected in the interview with Andy Smith, who ran off to join the Moscow State Circus. Mir's open ended tone facilitates a real relationship between content and the viewer/reader/participant, and whether or not you are a fan of Mir is irrelevant to enjoying it.

Bruce Haines is a curator at the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), London.