Artspace Lounge

Matt Feiner: First 100 Days in Office

April 4—June 28, 2014

Matt Feiner, First 100 Days; John Groo.

Matt Feiner’s work reminds us of the irreplaceable aspects of the traditional newspaper that are lost in our digital world: the tactile nature of newsprint; the chance juxtapositions of word and image, the sense that those with access to the press, print advertising, and distribution can determine what we know and think.

Over the past three years, New Haven has seen the upheaval and overhaul of the news industry, with the redesign of the New Haven Register, the demise of the free cultural weekly the New Haven Advocate, and the rapid growth of the New Haven Independent blog.  Against this media revolution backdrop, Feiner is reclaiming the power of print to coax new meanings from newsprint.

Feiner’s witty and unexpected visual associations, made with careful, old-style collaging and layering, are only possible when using the broadsheet.  This is breakfast work, done, the artist says, each morning when the paper is delivered, over a first cup of coffee. Some days, as on January 27th, he said, “they just make themselves”.  Because he makes one piece every day, as a kind of personal, contemplative journaling, the opportunity to view his work spanning a sustained period that corresponds to New Haven’s new leadership first 100 days of operation, is a poetic reminder of how art and life intersect.

Of course there is a long history of creating a kind time capsule to capture the fleeting 100-day honeymoon period in the political life of new leaders.  What innovations get pushed through and what report cards of accomplishments get issued? At a time of hope, possibility, and also heightened scrutiny, our community here shares the chance to take stock of our town and its evolution. Feiner’s visual mash-up approach is one we are proud to add to the conversation.  At the same time, these works offer echoes of John Stezaker and Martha Rosler, noted collagists who subvert mass media imagery to question the truth and what is telegraphed to us.  In the coming days, we will have the chance to see the other assessments from the very media that the artist de- and reconstructs. We invite viewers to ponder and hopefully discuss our year-to-date 2014 news—as medium and message—through Feiner’s singular vision.

—Helen Kauder, Executive Director. April 2014.

Artspace is grateful to Matt DiRienzo and Angel Diggs of the New Haven Register for their enthusiasm and support of this project.