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.
In research for this show, three assistants and myself spent months in the Public Library copying 10,000 covers of the two tabloids – the outcome of their combined cover stories of 15 years. From these, I selected around 200 that were particularly poignant, or which formed an ongoing narrative, but most importantly, that made me smile with recognition. I lived in New York between 1989 and 2005, 15 years that roughly coincide with the time period of the show. As I never had a studio in the city, I developed a practice that relied heavily on communication instead: phone, Internet, publishing, travel, performance, ephemera, event production. This show draws on all of the above.
During the two months of the duration of this show, I will create an environment that primitively simulates a newsroom of a major agency or newspaper. The material output of the agency will take the form of drawings, which for me are traces of activities such as reading, moving, talking, remembering and reporting. Together with a team of assistants, I plan to create 200 drawings inspired by the aforementioned tabloid covers and my personal references to them. The gallery will be turned into the studio I never had; at the same time, we will be producing art at a schedule more akin to a news agency than to that of an artist’s studio. Every day, there will be new art and old news on the walls.
Redrawing New York’s Tabloids