Aleksandra Mir

Aleksandra Mir, Mary Boone

By Jonathan Turner
Artnews, New York, January 2008

Newsroom 1986-2000
15 September - 27 October 2007
Mary Boone Gallery, New York

Over the course of two months the evolving installation, Newsroom 1986-2000, by the Polish-born Aleksandra Mir, simulated a busy editorial office dedicated to reporting disaster, scandal, and shock. Assistants sat around tables re-creating the front pages of the New York Post and the Daily News with Sharpies on poster paper. In rotating display some 200 large drawings bore screaming boldfaced headlines and patriotic news stories from a recent period of comparative innocence, without a trace of cynicism. The project addressed the role journalism plays in social discourse and collective memory.

Mir's production-line exercise linked events and invented narratives for them while regurgitating flash points of stories in a rarified context of the gallery. On one day the space was dedicated to Donald and Ivana Trump - their rocky marriage and the public's glee as they split up. A few days later this saga was replaced by stories under the headline "miracle" about people who had survived deadly plane, car, blimp, and bus crashes. Then came a cycle based on gay issues, which such syntactically unforgiving headlines as "St. Paddy's Day Gay Furor".

"Every day, there will be new art and old news on the walls," Mir proclaimed. In the rear gallery, which became a studio, she drew outlines on large sheets of paper, indicating which areas her assistants should shade or leave blank in making the replicas. The billboard-scale sheets were then passed on to assistants in the main gallery, who worked on several stories at a time under the guidelines of the artist-editor. They work freehand, producing inexact copies with the occasional spelling mistake.

Part of the joy of this show was the way the assistants laboriously reproduced high-tech tabloid images in almost folksy way, mimicking the practices of manual typesetters in precomputer newsroom - yesterday's news as tomorrow's history.