John Hurrell – 14 March, 2013
As this country's broadsheet newspapers continue their downward spiral with online competition eating away at their readership, their articles getting shorter and content more trite, it is fascinating to think about this form of publishing as a possibly doomed global phenomenon.
Produced and Designed by Kelvin Soh and Sam Wieck
Edition of 750
This ‘book’ is a looseleafed collection of sixteen posters displaying nameplates (newspaper wordmarks) from a selection of daily publications found around the world. Many - but not all - are left wing in political persuasion, pointedly none are from North America, and most are from Europe - with a few from S.E.Asia and South America. Only three are in English.
They are not page size but more the scale of those newsprint flyers we sometimes see in rectangular grilles leaning up outside dairies; not pure facsimiles but close to it, derived from hardcopy formats - not online. The designers, Kelvin Soh and Sam Wieck, have occasionally subtly tweaked the publication logos. Many of these letterheads - now free of ads, photographs and textual content - are, as in their original state, surprisingly colourful and geometric.
Menzies has a long history of interest in newspapers as generators and transmitters of historical meaning, ‘truth’ and political power. Some ideational aspects also have a lot in common with the newspaper display stand replicas exhibited by Fiona Connor in Gambia Castle. The blank negative spaces you mentally fill in yourself below the brand names, they encourage you to provide your own content.
The restrained sensuality of this project aspires to whet your appetite so you attempt to find out more about newspapers in cultures very different from your own. The eyecatching headings draw you in. As this country’s broadsheet newspapers continue their downward spiral with online competition eating away at their readership, their articles getting shorter and content more trite, it is fascinating to think about this form of publishing as a possibly doomed global phenomenon.
You also wonder about the cities they come from, and the stability of the democratic processes that determine their effective functioning as organs of free speech - if that is their purpose. There is also their range of mood or register. Some are tabloid or gossipy, oriented towards celebrity culture; others are tasteful and earnest. Some are focussed on making money with advertising, others espouse set government positions, others still a range of political and social ideas.
Here is Menzies’ selection: The Times (London); La Razon (Buenos Aires); Fakt (Warsaw); Hamshahri (Tehran); La Repubblica (Rome); Le Monde (Paris); La Stampa (Turin); El Universal (Caracas); Naewna (Bangkok); Radikal (Instanbul); Pravda (Moscow); Bild (Berlin); The Press (Christchurch); Die Welt (Berlin); The Age (Melbourne); Mainichi (Tokyo).
Most of us would only be aware of about six of these publications, so peeking at the other ten via your computer, or better still, your nearest magazine store, is an exciting opportunity to learn about their editorial characteristics and contextual history. Plus there is the visual pleasure of the isolated banners themselves, graphic islands surrounded by an oblong sea of blank newsprint.
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