Aleksandra Mir

In The Public Eye

Art Review, London, Feb 2003
By Pablo Lafuente

Publicness
29 Jan - 16 March 2003
Institute of Contemporary Art, ICA Galleries, The Mall, London - UK

For her 35th birthday, Aleksandra Mir called her friends and asked them to submit contributions for a newspaper, her own version of New York's Daily News. It was more than a fun thing: Mir was born on 11 September 1967, so her 35th took place one year after the attack on the World Trade Center. It was the impulse to "reclaim my birthday from the fascism of 9/11 memorialisation" that led Mir to create a newspaper with open editorial policy.

Placing art outside the gallery, mixing personal experience and public life in collaborative efforts, and taking advantage of the grey areas of society in order to create impermanent works are the characteristics of the work in 'Publicness' at London's ICA. Jens Haaning, Matthieu Laurette and Mir use their work to comment on social and political issues, and establish temporary connections between elements belonging to different realms.

Such links occur in Jens Haaning's Flag Production (2000), for which the Dane invited foreign inhabitants of Innsbruck to make a flag for a fictional country; in his Office For the Exchange of Citizenship (1997-present), which arranges nationality swaps; and in Super Discount (1998), for which Haaning, taking advantage of the low tax on art, imported food and sold it cheaply in a gallery.

The same lack of inhibitions and sense of possibility inform Mir's Stonehenge II, a proposal to build a lifesize Stonehenge near the original site so the public can enjoy it without restrictions; the same applies to First Woman on the Moon (1999), a one-day event on the 30th anniversary of the first Moon landing, for which she staged the arrival of a woman to the Moon on a Dutch beach. Laurette's Citizenship Project, a web-based database (www.citizenship-project.com) which provides information on citizenship and immigration, was the basis for his contribution to the 2001 Venice Biennale, where he offered to create work for any of the unrepresented countries in exchange for a passport. As with Mir and Haaning, the public nature of his art is important to him. Laurette is even willing to share the tools of his trade via The Global Demix iHome Studio (www.laurette.net), a free-access online workshop which also gives instructions on how to start a rumour on the internet.