Beauty Free, Cold War Hot Stuff and Real Real Estate Flowers belong to a series of twenty huge drawings created by Aleksandra Mir and a team of sixteen assistants – mainly students and art school graduates - as part of a non-stop "Sharpie marathon" held in a temporary East Village studio, New York, during the month of May 2005. Each work consists of eight sheets of paper, pieced together in a landscape format, the common feature of which is an outlined map of the United States.
Retro text and motifs evoking idealist 1960s Americana such as the draft, the baby boom, Civil War, road trips, the space race, the Bicentennial, love and God were sketched by Mir overnight and filled in by her helpers working in shifts each day and evening using black Sharpie felt tips pens. The process of collaboration, and the use of atypical materials – in this case a humble household marker pen – are similarly integral to the artist’s working practice.
Beauty Free is a commentary on the American Civil War, a bloody conflict dominated by the issue of slavery which began in 1860 when Confederate states in the south declared their independence and claimed the right of secession from the union. The southern states are here labelled "free", the letters spelled out in stars from the country’s flag, while the northern states are threaded together by one long, continuous, looping stripe and the word "beauty". Cold War Hot Stuff employs the same device – stars in the form of snowflakes above and stripes in the form of sunbeams below – to create a contrast of warm and cold, light and dark, and, in a more overtly political sense, good and evil. Real Real Estate Flowers, probably the most psychedelic of the three, maps the officially designated flowers of each state.
NEWSROOM 1986-2000, 2007
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 the 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 the show at the Mary Boone gallery in September-October 2007, three assistants and myself spent months in the NYC 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. The show drew on all of the above.
During the two months of the duration of the show, I created an environment that primitively simulated a newsroom of a major agency or newspaper. The material output of the agency took the form of drawings, which for me were traces of activities such as reading, moving, talking, remembering and reporting. Together with a team of assistants, I created 200 drawings (out of which 21 are exhibited here) inspired by the aforementioned tabloid covers and my personal references to them. The gallery was turned into the studio I never had; at the same time, we produced art at a schedule more akin to a news agency than to that of an artist’s studio. Every day, there was new art and old news on the walls.
July 2007 / August 2008
Born in 1970, Lubin, Poland
Lives and works in London
Antarctica: A Play, Playgoers Society, Dartington Hall, Devon
Drawing Room, Drawing Room, London.
Tour the Darker side of Worcester, Movement, Worcester.
Discoteca, Magazzino d'Arte Moderna, Rome.
The Space Age, M - Museum Leuven, Leuven.
Visionaries of St.Pauli, Betongalerie, Hamburg.
The Meaning of Flowers, Gavlak Palm Beach.
Justice, Triple A, Los Angeles.
Local Library, Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona.
La 600, Magazzino d'Arte Moderna, Rome.
Dessins, Laurent Godin, Paris.
The Seduction of Galileo Galilei, Mercer Union, Toronto.
The Dream and The Promise, Gavlak, Palm Beach.
Il Sogno e la Promessa, Magazzino d'Arte Moderna, Rome.
The Dream and The Promise, Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona.
The How Not To Cookbook, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh.
Triumph, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt.
Plane Landing - Photography, Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris.
Mandalas and Incense holders, Lisboa20 - Arte Contemporanea, Lisboa.
White House, Mary Boone Gallery, NYC.
Plane Landing, Tuileries, Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel, organized by Laurent Godin, Paris.
Plane Landing, Zurich Airport, organized by Kunsthaus, Zurich.
A Retrospective of Printed Matter, Printed Matter, Inc, NYC.
Newsroom 1986-2000, Mary Boone Gallery, NYC.
Sicilian Pavilion, Palermo / Venice.
Gravity: The Eternal Countdown, ICA, London.
Organized Movement - A video diary, The Power Plant, Toronto.
The Meaning of Flowers, Gavlak, Art Basel Miami Beach.
Gravity, Space Soon, Arts Catalyst, The Roundhouse, London.
Switzerland and Other Islands, Kunsthaus Zurich.
Living & Loving #3—The Biography of Mitchell Wright, White Columns, NYC.
Mouvement Organisé, Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris.
WELCOME Sometimes, Greengrassi Gallery, London
Aeropuerto, Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona
Baloise Art Prize: Aleksandra Mir - The Big Umbrella, SMAK, Ghent
The World from Above, Lisboa 20 Arte Contemporanea, Lisboa
Organized Movement', Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
The Most Beautiful Thing Today, White Columns, NYC.
NEW DESIGNS: Birth, Death and Abortion, Andrew Roth Inc, New York
Love Stories, Fundacion NMAC, Montenmedio
Narvik Superstars, Kunst I Nordland, Narvik
Living & Loving #2—The Biography of Zoe Stillpass, Frieze Art Fair, London
The Big Umbrella (New York), PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
The Big Umbrella (Copenhagen/Dresden), Statements, Basel
The World from Above, greengrassi, London
Naming Tokyo (part III), ICA, Philadelphia
Happy Holidays, The Wrong gallery, New York
The Big Umbrella (Paris), Jousse enterprise, Paris.
Naming Tokyo (part II), Swiss Institute, New York
Plane Landing, Compton Verney House Trust, Warwickshire
Welcome back to Earth, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St Gallen.
HELLO Ringier, Ringier annual report, Zurich
Corporate Mentality, Lukas & Sternberg, New York
Daily News, Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York / Greengrassi, London
Living & Loving #1—The Biography of Donald Cappy', Cubitt, London
Pink Tank, Cubitt, London
HELLO Bern, Galeria Francesca Pia, Bern
HELLO NYC, Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York
TOP SECRET, Kaffibarinn, Reykjavik
Conspiracy Night, Swiss Institute, New York
First Woman on the Moon, Casco Projects, UtrechtGarlands for people, The kitchen of Dorota and Feliks Puchlik, Sävedalen
Garlands for people, The country home of Maria and Martin Stahl, Stora Askerön
Bingo Blues,Transmission Gallery, Glasgow
City Forest (prototype), Tompkins Square Park, New York
Pick Up (oh baby), Lyd/Galerie, Copenhagen
Fashion Hats, Window on Broadway, The New Museum of Contemporary Art/Fashion Hats, New York
Life is Sweet in Sweden, Trixter, Gothenburg
Freundschaftsspiel, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg.
OCD: A collection of one's own, MUSAC, León.
Your Body is a Battleground, Personal PAC, Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago.
Father Figures Are Hard to Find, nGbK Kunstverein, Berlin.
LSD, Rob Tufnell, London.
Keep Abortion Legal, Printed Matter, NYC.
The Kitchen Benefit Art Auction, The Kitchen, NYC.
KOSMICA, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City.
Magnetism, Hazelwood House, Sligo.
Collecting Lines: Drawings from the Ringier Collection, Villa Flora, Winterthur.
Drawing Now, Albertina, Vienna.
America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
TUTTOVERO, GAM - Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino / Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea / Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo / Fondazione Merz, Turin.
Master Drawings: 100 Years of the Prints and Drawings Collection, Kunsthaus Zurich.
An Earthquake at the Racetracks, Museo de la Cuidad, Santiago de Querétaro.
Manifest Intention: Drawing in all its Forms, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli-Turin.
Hypothèse de l’impact géant, Le Carreau and Visages du Monde, Cergy.
Höhenrausch - Moving Space, OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz.
In the Beginning / End States, Sgobarti Projects, NYC.
COPIED, Andrew Roth Gallery, NYC.
They used to call it the Moon, BALTIC, Gateshead.
They used to call it the Moon, BALTIC39, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Resonance (s), Maison Particulière, Brussels.
Who Shall Deliver Us From The Greeks and Romans?, Galeri Mana, Istanbul.
Presència de Galeria Joan Prats, Galeria Joan Prats, Poblenou, Barcelona.
Social Goth, Scandinavian Institute, New York.
International Women's Day, Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia.
Party with us - 10 years after, Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea, Palermo.
Reading List: Artists' Selections from the MoMA Library, The MoMA Library, New York.
Energy & Process, Tate Modern Collection Displays, London.
Welcome, bull mengers, Laven.
Souvenir, Galerie Perrotin, Paris.
Metropolis: Reflections on the modern city, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
9th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre.
Monuments, Lismore Castle, Waterford.
Witnessing the Wilderness, Wimbledon Art Space, London.
Dreams of Reason, Centre of Contemporary Art, Torun.
Paperwork: A brief history of Artist's Scrapbooks, Roth, New York.
Pursuit of Perfection: The Politics of Sport, South London Gallery, London
Rest in Press, LiMAC, Lima
ArtandPress, ZKM, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
Situation(s) [48°47'34" N / 2°23'14" E], MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine
Art Parcours, Art Basel, Basel
Cafe & Films, Elaine MGK, Basel
The Big Scale, Site Festival, Index Gallery, Stroud
The Artists' Postcard Show, Spike Island, Bristol
Lugares en Perdida, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Huarte, Huarte
Revisitations: Saatchi Gallery returns to Ipswich Art School, Ipswich Art School, Ipswich
ArtandPress, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
Print/Out, MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The long night of Transformation, Haus am Lutzowplatzt Kulturzentrum Berlin eV., Berlin
In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, ICA, London
Campaign, C24 Gallery, New York
Camulodunum, Firstsite, Colchester.
Once Upon a Time, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin.
Space: About a Dream, Kunsthalle, Wien.
The Luxury of Dirt, Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Zurich.
Aphasic Disturbance, Chelsea Space, London.
Plus Ultra, MACRO Testaccio, Rome.
Five Year Anniversary Exhibition, Gavlak, Palm Beach.
Born in Dystopia, Rosenblum Collection, Paris.
The Last Newspaper, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC.
Italian Journey, Palazzo Fabroni Arti Visive Contemporanee, Pistoia.
Metropolis, The New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands.
In the backyards of kings, Action Field Kodra, Thessaloniki.
Tumult, The Muncipality of Guldborgsund, Nykøbing.
Retro-Retro Tech, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose.
Endless Bummer / Surf Elsewhere, Blum & Poe, LA.
Christmas in July, Yvon Lambert, NYC.
IN BOOK: Archives/actions in the contemporary artist’s book, Biblioteca di Palazzo Mauri, Spoleto.
Natural Renditions, Marlborough Gallery, Inc, NYC.
Glück Happens, Städtische Galerie, Erlangen.
Nosotras, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC), Sevilla.
Face Your Demons, Milliken Gallery, Stockholm.
Horizont, Galeria Miguel Nabinho, Lisboa.
The Traveling Show, Fundación Jumex, Mexico City.
Intervention in Printed Matter, Roth, NYC.
A New Breed, Exit Art, NYC.
Unbound Thoughts, James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe.
Contemplating the Void, Guggenheim Museum, NYC.
Star City: The Future Under Communism, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham.
Catch Me. Grasping Speed, Kunsthaus, Graz.
Things That Only an Artist Can Do, MARCO - Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Vigo.
You Can Heal Your Life!, Circus Gallery, Los Angeles.
GAGARIN The Artists in their Own Words, S.M.A.K., Gent.
Dance in My Experience, Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf.
Fleuves, cneai, Chatou.
A Tribute to Ron Warren, Mary Boone Gallery, NYC.
Deceitful Moon, Southbank Centre, London.
LEARN TO READ ART: A History of Printed Matter, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; P.S.1, Long Island City.
Vague Terrain: Analogues of Place in Contemporary Photography, The FLAG Art Foundation, NYC.
Making Worlds, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice.
Deep Green, Den Frie Udstillingsbygning, Copenhagen,
This is Not America, El Descanso del Guerrero, Toa Baja.
Shifting Identities. (Swiss) Art Now, Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius.
Kosmos. New Photography from Space, Stadhaus, Ulm.
The Chance Encounter, South Australian School of Art, Adelaide.
Art vs. Starlight: Sight-Specific, Play Circle Theater, Madison.
Weltraum als Fluchtlinie, Kunstverein, Wolfsburg.
The End, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.
Entrance Strategies, SF MoMA, San Francisco.
Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding, The New School for Design, NYC.
Making a Scene, Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples.
Uncoordinated: Mapping Cartography in Contemporary Art, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.
God is Design, Galpao Fortes Vilaca, Sao Paulo.
The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - Galleries, San Francisco.
Italia Italie Italien Italy Wlochy, Museo Arcos, Benevento.
The Big Easy, ACC Galerie Weimar, Weimar.
Stardust ou la dernière frontière, MAC/VAL, Musée d'art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-seine.
Come, Come, Come into my world, Ellipse Foundation, Alcoitão.
USA Today: New American Art from The Saatchi Gallery, The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
PAWNSHOP, e-flux, NYC.
Disco Coppertone, Megaron OLP, Piraeus.
The Shapes of Space - Part IV, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC.
Detourism, Orchard, NYC.
Beauty is in the Street, Mason Gross Galleries/Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
New York, Interrupted, PKM Gallery, Beijing.
Labyrinth, Botkyrka Konsthall, Tumba.
Bunch Alliance and Dissolve, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.
Fantastic Politics, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo.
USA Today, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Upstate, Mary Boone Gallery, NYC.
Aleksandra Mir & Robert Orchardson, Bournville Centre for Visual Arts, Birmingham.
Space Is The Place, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland.
The Starry Messenger: Visions of the Universe, Compton Verney, Warwickshire.
Motion on Paper, Ben Brown Fine Arts Ltd, London.
Nothing But Pleasure, BAWAG Foundation, Wien.
Empieza el Juego, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.
Miss America, Rental Gallery, Los Angeles.
Yankee Doodle, Hillside Plaza, Tokyo.
Art For Our Sake!, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson.
Opere Su Carta, Studio Guenzani, Milan.
Hiding In The Light, Mary Boone Gallery, NYC.
My Way, Jousse Entreprise, Paris.
GuestRoom #2, Museum Heit Domein, Sittard
Organized Movement', Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Return To Space, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
Encore, Istanbul Foundation for Cultural and Arts, Istanbul
A Lucky Strike: Kunst findet Stadt, GAK, Bremen
Bonds of Love, John Connelly Presents, New York
The Gesture. A Visual Library in Progress, Oxymoron, Athens; Quarter, Florence
Merit Badge, 445 Old State Road 82, Craryville
Publish and be Damned, Outpost gallery, Norfolk; LOT, Bristol; Display, Praha
Someone somewhere is furiously traveling towards you, La Casa Encendida, Madrid
Largo Alcance, Centro de Arte Santa Monica, Bracelona
Social Democracy Revisited, Apexart, New York
Post No Bills, White Columns, New York
Trade, White Columns, New York
Social Democracy Revisited', Apexart, New York
Monuments for the USA, CCAC Wattis Institute, San Francisco
Tea and video art, Locus, Athens
Funky Lessons, BAWAG Foundation, Vienna
Vacation: projection series 7, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery , New Plymouth
The exhibition Coalesce: Mingle Mangle, Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo
Communism, Project Art Space, Dublin
Che and Apple, Le Magasin, Grenoble
Terminal 5', JFK airport, New York
Never Never Landscape, Atle Gerhardsen, Berlin
Funky Lessons, Buero Friedrich, Berlin
Exhibition 13, Champion Fine Art, New York
Power, Corruption and Lies, Roth Horowitz, New York
California Earthquakes, Daniel Reich Gallery, New York
Localismos;, Perros Negros, Mexico City
The Drawing Project, Vamiali's, Athens
Detox, The Murmanx connection, Grenselandsmuseet, Kirkenes
Socle du Monde Biennial 2004, Herning Kunstmuseum, Herning
Nuclear War, Kunsthaus Dresden, Dresden
World Watchers, Kunsthaus Dresden, Dresden
Untitled (Visione, Esistenza, Resistenza)
Tonight, Studio Voltaire, London
Whitney Biennial 2004, New York
State of Play', Serpentine gallery, London
Le Proche et le Lointain, Domaine de Kerguehennec cac, Kerguehennec
The Outlaw Series 2003, New York
The World, Jousse enterprise, Paris
The World, Gallery speak for, Tokyo
Sandwiched, Jacob Fabricius, New York
24/7: Wilno-Nueva York, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius
Publicness, w. Jens Haaning & Matthieu Laurette, ICA, London
Overexposed, Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona
La crise économique', Jousse enterprise, Paris
GNS (Global Navigation System), Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Sharjah International Biennial 6', Sharjah Art Museums, Sharjah
It doesn't matter what you know, because this is real life, GBE, New York
Ill Communication, DCA, Dundee
The 20th Anniversary Show, Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York
Actualites, Le Rectangle, Lyon
The World (may be) Fantastic, Biennale of Sydney, Sydney
COPY, Roth Horowitz gallery, New York
5th Anniversary show, Jousse Entreprise, Paris
How wonderful that the world exists!, CCAS
Pyramids of Mars, Curve Gallery, Barbican Art Center, London
Pyramids of Mars, Trappholt Art Museum, Trapholt
Pyramids of Mars, Fruitmarket gallery, Edinburgh
FLAKK, or that extraordinary sensation of being abroad even when at home, The Nordic House, Reykjavik
Fuori Uso, Pescara
Democracy!', Royal College of Art, London
Viva Maria III, Gallery Karin Guenther, Hamburg
Empires without States, Swiss Institute, New York
Oriental Nights, Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York
Slipstream, Center of Contemporary Art, Glasgow
Momentum, Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, Moss
Update, Roskilde Festival, Roskilde