Fred Tomaselli: Banner Year 29 October–26 December 2021 Online Only White Cube
A self-described ‘news junkie’, Fred Tomaselli reads The New York Times religiously. As a maker of collages—both on paper and in large-scale wall works that suspend cut-up images and actual objects in resin—Tomaselli draws parallels between his work and everyday newspapers. ‘I tend to see myself as a kind of conductor overseeing a choir of nameless voices singing through artifacts’, he says. ‘Newspapers, with their army of editors, writers, fact-checkers and photographers, seem to embody a similar kind of cultural collectivity.’
Banner Year is one of a series of works on paper based on the front pages of The New York Times, which the artist began during the administration of President George W. Bush upon realising that the critical comments he scrawled on his morning paper might have artistic potential. He began using collage, ink, coloured pencil, gouache, acrylic paint and digital technologies to reprint and rework the images featured on front-page news.
The works in Banner Year include January 7, 2021, in which a photograph of rioters scaling the US Capitol walls is transformed into an image of floating figures rising from a sea of flames beneath the blaring, all-caps headline ‘TRUMP INCITES MOB’; April 14, 2021, an above-the-fold image of US soldiers helping a wounded comrade that has been almost entirely overpainted with images of vines and flowers, beneath the text ‘Biden Sets End Date for Nation’s Longest War’; and August 17, 2021, which repositions a photograph of Barry—a beloved owl with a ‘people-friendly personality’, who died in New York’s Central Park—under the banner ‘FACING AFGHAN CHAOS, BIDEN DEFENDS EXIT’ to juxtapose two tragedies, one individual and local, the other affecting millions globally.
‘I never use Photoshop and my editing is primarily done using a printer, an X-acto knife and glue. My edits and process are transparent. It’s a lot like the way pre-digital paste up crews once put publications together. But whatever I decide, the printed part in the final work is always sourced from the original front page.’