COLUMN: presents new works commissioned for spots in various sizes and sections in five issues of the Poughkeepsie Journal, a daily local newspaper in Dutchess County, New York. How do artists relate to this perpetual site and what can they offer to it? While artists using the newspaper as a medium has a long tradition, COLUMN: proposes the newspaper as a public and economical exhibition venue, dispersed in and specific to the area in which the Center for Curatorial Studies is located. The project investigates the characteristics of this location and aims at creating an immediate encounter with contemporary art for the reader. In a moment of transition for printed papers, COLUMN: also wants to reflect on the situation of this printed medium and to highlight its different facets. The artists in COLUMN:, some of whom know the region because they either live, study, or work in Dutchess County, explore the paper’s local context as well as its style and information. The project’s participants include Erick Beltrán, Dexter Sinister, Jens Haaning, Interboro, Bernd Krauss and Sydney Schrader & Joseph Verrill. While individual practices of these artists range from intervention to design and architecture, what unites them here is an underlying interest in modes of communication and the aesthetic of distribution.
Interested in the packaging and distribution of information, Erick Beltrán (b.1974, based in Barcelona) has realized numerous projects in newspapers. On Thursday, January 26, 2006 for exampleLa Nación from Santiago de Chile appeared in its regular edition as inverted in a mirror (La Nación inverted, 2006). Beltrán’s intervention interrupted the process of reading and pointed out to the three-dimensional quality of the medium, its texture, and design. In his works, which typically include printed matter, Beltrán often focuses on the human ability to improvise. He invites the viewer to experience information intuitively through processes of walking, shuffling or brainstorming. Like this, one can create one’s own stream of knowledge. In the Poughkeepsie Journal, Beltrán interacts with the reader through a series of short messages.
In their multiple roles as designers, publishers, writers and distributors (based in New York), David Reinfurt (b.1973) and Stuart Bailey (b.1971) alias Dexter Sinister control each part of their printed matter productions. Dot dot dot, an art magazine that combines commissioned and republished texts on art, design, architecture, music, and literature is one example out of many others that embody Dexter Sinister’s practice. Issue no 15 was produced site-specifically to the group exhibition Wouldn’t it Be Nice… at the Center of Contemporary Art Geneva in 2007. Visitors were able to see the full production process of the publication as it was written, compiled, edited, designed, and printed in the exhibition space over a period of two weeks. With this practice Dexter Sinister not only proposes a conservation of energy and the avoidance of waste but also uses the exhibition site as inspiration and working ground. For the Poughkeepsie Journal Dexter Sinister will divide its space by five in order to accompany and comment on the full series with small scale optical illusions. www.dextersinister.org
In 2006 a poster was distributed on public billboards throughout Manhattan. Its layout evoked associations of oriental design and displayed text in Arabic language. While the appearance of the poster confused passersby and caused speculations for those who were not able to decipher the text, it was fun for the ones who were able to read it. Jens Haaning’s poster Arabic Joke told the humorous story of Guha, a man who is afraid that chickens could mistake him for a grain of wheat. This Kafkaesque parable on our existence, which is defined, ignored or threatened by the perspective of others, also reflected on the ambiguous reactions on the poster. Haaning (b.1965, lives in Copenhagen) explores socio-economical processes of exclusion and exploitation by mixing or distorting the relations of sides, systems and zones. His work in COLUMN: refers to the Poughkeepsie Journal’s characteristic calendar stripe. www.jenshaaning.com
Why does the Loop bus line still make routine stops in front of a mall that is officially closed since 1998? Interboro, an architecture, urban planning and design office, based in Brooklyn is interested in the phenomena of spontaneous economy, happening around a dead mall in the town of Fishkill, New York. Built in 1974 the shopping center with once 50 stores was the first mall in Dutchess County, but due to economical developments in the area had to close its doors after 24 years. Since then, the property owner maintained the building as an investment. Interested in the activities that emerged in the abandoned place over time, Interboro developed the research project In The Meantime, Life with Landbanking (2002 with Christine Williams) and proposed the re-animation of the Dutchess Mall with a mix of architectural stragies. Their work in the newspaper will look at the shopping center’s past and present situation. (Interboro are: Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, and Georgeen Theodore.) www.interboropartners.net
Bernd Krauss (b.1968) looks at strategies of communication through the lenses of local media—by interpreting and setting up online TV and radio stations or by writing and distributing newspapers. Der Riecher (The Sniffer) for example is a four-page publication series, existing since 1997, which roughly takes on the content and design of a local paper. Krauss’ daily life impressions—organized in quick drawings and handwritten breaking news, articles and ads —circulate as personal, often sarcastic comments. During his one semester residency at the Center for Curatorial Studies in 2008, Der Riecher was one medium beside many others, which Krauss used in order to appropriate and redefine the official identity of this location. The artist’s work in the Poughkeepsie Journal points to his specifically set up blog Dear Poughkeepsie, (dearpoughkeepsie.blogspot.com), which, during COLUMN:, investigates this newspaper with a range of media.
The collaborative Sydney Schrader & Joseph Verrill (b.1987, based in Tivoli, NY), whose practices range from sculpture to public interventions, are senior studio art mayors at Bard College. A reoccurring subject in these artists’ work is the evaluation, merchandising, and distribution of local identity. In Golden Delicious, a Fundraiser for Project Nample (2008) they reveal the beauty of the Hudson Valley as a distraction from parallel global economic processes. A bronzing lotion, locally produced by the artists with natural ingredients was sold by them on a nearby farmers market to raise funds for the artists’ registered corporation “Project Nample.” The project promotes an imaginative hybrid fruit called Nample, a mix of the foreign Red Spanish pineapple with the famous New York region Red Delicious apple. With their work, the artists explore the blurry lines between a ‘sense of place’ and the global market by pointing out that this bronzing lotion, even though a local product, not only changes the color of its user but also that of a region’s characteristics in the long run. For COLUMN: the artists examine the role of the Poughkeepsie Journal as a circulator of local information.
COLUMN: is curated by Marion Ritter as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.
Student curated exhibitions at CCS Bard are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund; Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg; and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies. Partial funding for this project comes from the Poughkeepsie Journal. Special thanks to Barbara Gallo Farrell.