PRINT November 2006


THIS EXHIBITION, prepared for the pages of a magazine, is intended to mirror in content its context. Therefore I present a selection of paper objects that came into being as holders of information and as forms of dissemination. What unifies them is their high degree of aesthetic consideration and a self-consciousness that disguises successfully the shortcomings of the organizations or points of view they were produced to promote.

Like Artforum, several of my choices are specialized magazines themselves. The Dutch journal Wendingen, for example, published from 1918 to 1932 in Amsterdam, was devoted to in-depth exploration of specific themes ranging from seashells to public housing. The issue I have singled out, from 1924, was a compendium of ex libris plates by local artists. Similarly, Glamour International, a journal of cartoon erotica, also dedicated each issue to selected topics—for instance, bums, lesbians, brothels, and bums again.

THE GERMAN satirical magazine Simplicissimus (1896–1944), like its contemporaries Die Fackel in Austria and L’Assiette au beurre in France, used black humor to discuss the political and social issues of the times—in the case at hand, the differing approaches to colonialism by various European nation-states.

INDEPENDENT RECORD LABELS Factory and Les Disques Du Crepuscule understood smoke-and-mirrors tactics and self-mythology as necessary to their organizations if they were to survive. Both labels turned to the atavistic trope of Christmas for inspiration, Crepuscule releasing festive postpunk compilations (Ghosts of Christmas Past, etc.) and Factory honoring the importance of its elite fan base and support network with festive freebies. Spending Christmas morning constructing a scale model of the nightclub in which you danced the night before must have made one feel part of a privileged caste.

THE CITY OF BRUSSELS presents itself here in an officially commissioned map as if it wishes to encourage its inhabitants and visitors to think of themselves as living in a comic book. Note the artist’s hungover rendering of the building that replaced Victor Horta’s bulldozed Maison du Peuple on the Sablon (H4)!

WHEN THE RECEIVERS were called in on Manchester’s Factory Records in 1992, the event was nicely photographed. The Wiener Werkstätte did not have such a luxury; despite all rationalizing efforts, it eventually folded in 1932, after which its employees and archive suffered several years of bureaucratic abuse typical under the Nazis. As its invoice illustrates, while the Werkstätte was in operation clients and bookkeepers participated in the act of doing business as imaginatively activated as everything else that was produced by the company.

Finally, when I showed at Tate Britain in 2003, the installation-checklist form illustrated here was still being used. Its royal insignia is a symbol of the administrative protocol that, apart from ironic use, has been almost eradicated from the public eye in contemporary culture, while still being very much present and powerful.

Lucy McKenzie is a Brussels-based artist.