Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's the New News - part 1

by Dean Liscum
To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.
Henry David Thoreau
I'm not sure that Nathaniel Donnett, the artist and curator of "What's the New News," would completely agree with Thoreau's opinion of the news, but judging from the show I doubt he'd subscribe to Fox New's tag line that insists it's "Fair and Balanced" either.

Donnet has brought together writers Ayanna McCloud, Egie Ighite, Michael K. Taylor, Phillip Pyle II, Tyres Bryant, Robert A. Pruitt and Kenya "Mumbles Medina" Evans, and visual artists Ann "Sole Sister" Johnson, Lovia Olivia, Regina Agu, Gregory M. Carter, William Cordova, Pruitt, Rabe´a Ballin and Robert Hodge. Together in the microcosm that is the Third Ward, they take on the questions of "What is news? Whose news is it? What meanings does it convey? What and whose purpose does it serve?"

The exhibition has two parts. The first one took place at the Community Artists´ Collective (The Collective) in the Midtown Art Center Tea Room, 1413 Holman at LaBranch, from September 16 through October 1, 2011. It consisted of newspaper stands reimagined and examples of the New News. Both of these types of work challenge their traditional rolls. The newsstands are no longer branded boxes meant to convey conventional news. They are unique oracles meant to engage the community. Their exteriors illustrate their ideological foundation. This is not the dispassionate, decontextualized version of the story.

From Rabe'a Ballin's Coloured...

Rabe'a Ballin
digital photograph collage, 2011 Robert Hodge's piece, which celebrates the rich history of the Third Ward, these news racks announce that this is not your white-washed, sanitize-for-your-protection version of the news.

Robert Hodge
A Lil Bit of 3rd Ward
acrylic, enamel, and conte silk screen on metal, 2011

 Ann Johnson uses the ancient technology of mosiacs to record her message.

Ann Johnson
Collective Community
pebble mosaic, 2011

Whereas Gregory Carter uses the new technology of QR codes to enable viewers to use their phones to scan with their bar code reader apps to learn about the prominent African-Americans that adorn his news rack.
Gregory Carter
House Hold Names
magnets, 2011

Like its subject, the second part engages the community and goes on indefinitely. Donnett invites artists (writers, poets, visual artists, musicians) to reinterpret new stories about events that occurred in the Third Ward. He then places the news racks with the re-presented news at the sites throughout the Third Ward. This enables residents (and non-residents) to experience another facet of an event that occurred in the neighborhood. It's news that questions and even contradicts the official news. That idea may not be new, but in this town at this time, it certainly feels that way.


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