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"The Last Newspaper" Exhibition at the New Museum Inspired by the Ways Artists Respond to the News
Wolfgang Tillmans, Truth study Center (NY), 2010. Wood, glass, and mixed mediums. Courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, ©Wolfgang Tillmans.

NEW YORK, NY.- The New Museum presents “The Last Newspaper,” a major exhibition inspired by the ways artists approach the news and respond to the stories and images that command the headlines. The exhibition animates the Museum with signature artworks and a constant flow of information-gathering and processing undertaken by organizations and artist groups that have been invited to inhabit offices within the museum’s galleries. Partner organizations use on-site offices to present their research, engage in rapid prototyping, and stage public dialogues, opening up the galleries as spaces of intellectual production as well as display. For visitors, “The Last Newspaper” is a unique site of dialogue, participation, and critical thinking, posing new possibilities for a contemporary art museum experience. Co-curated by Richard Flood, Chief Curator of the New Museum, and Benjamin Godsill, Curatorial Associate, “The Last Newspaper” will be on view through January 9, 2011, and spans the fifth, fourth, and third-floor galleries.

The partner organizations that form the active “departments” of “The Last Newspaper” exhibition include: the Center for Urban Pedagogy; StoryCorps; Latitudes; Slought Foundation; INABA, Columbia University’s C-Lab; Joseph Grima and Kazys Varnelis/Netlab; and Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere. These partners weave their topics together in on-site offices and a discussion space that will host scheduled programs such as talks and informal conversations between participants, museum visitors, and featured guests.

A weekly newspaper compiled by partner organization Latitudes (Max Andrews and Máriana Canepa Luna) will report on the events and discussions that take place throughout the galleries during the run of the exhibition. This publication will be distributed, free of charge, to New Museum visitors and will serve as a record of the exhibition’s proceedings in lieu of a traditional catalogue. A second weekly publication, to be called “A Temporary Newspaper,” will evolve from a series of discussions, debates, interviews, and research into the epochal shifts occurring in the global information industry today. The “Temporary Newspaper” team (led by Joseph Grima and Kazys Varnelis/Netlab: Networked Architecture Lab at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture) will engage in the entire publication process, from conception to editorial discussions and design, in full view of the public.

“The Last Newspaper” also includes a selection of important art works from 1967 to the present, in which twenty-seven artists explore their own reactions to the news, the mechanics of its dispersal, or both. Paintings, works on paper, and performance pieces by artists like Judith Bernstein, Andrea Bowers, Sarah Charlesworth, Thomas Hirschhorn, Luciano Fabro, Hans Haacke, Emily Jacir, Mike Kelley, and Wolfgang Tillmans, all disassemble and recontextualize elements of the newspaper in an effort to take charge of, and remake, the transmission of information that defines our daily lives. Using methods of collage, mimicry, and repurposing, these works deconstruct the newspaper and address the ambiguity about what is “news”.

The earliest work in “The Last Newspaper” exhibiton is Luciano Fabro’s Pavement Tautology (1967), which is based on the traditional method of cleaning terrazzo, or tile floors, wherein the previous day’s newspapers are used to dry a freshly mopped floor. The most recent work in the show is a series of paintings by Nate Lowman which he will create and install every week, working from a newspaper story and/or image that has compelled his attention. William Pope.L will supervise a performative restaging of his seminal work Eating the Wall Street Journal (2000) enlisting a team of collaborators to occasionally wander throughout the museum eating the financial daily. A suite of twenty works by Dash Snow, Untitled (2006), follows the downfall of Saddam Hussein as captured on the front pages of New York City tabloids, while Sarah Charlesworth’s Movie-Television-News-History (1979) addresses the coverage of an American newscaster’s on camera murder by the troops of Anatasio Somoza at a check-point in Nicaragua. Featuring this arresting image as it appeared (often framed by a television window) on the front page of 27 U.S. newspapers, Charlesworth’s work shows the newspapers’ emerging dependency on electronic news formats, but also its import as a temporary but tangible record of events.

In many ways the exhibition is an exercise in citizen journalism whereby the constant re-ordering and annotation of information in both the artwork and the processes of the resident participants becomes an arena for the structuring and restructuring of truths.

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