Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel's Billboards + Newsroom Exhibition
Minnesota Street Projects Gallery 200 --->More info here
Beginning in 1973 and up until 1989, we worked together on open ended, allusive designs for outdoor advertising billboards, under the name Clatworthy Colorvues. The billboards were exhibited mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we lived, but sometimes installed in other parts of the country, the result of workshops we led with graduate students, or exhibitions on appropriation and public art. With the billboard, we wanted to reach a larger and more varied public than would ever find its way into an art institution.
An except from an essay by Constance M. Lewallen written in 2009
Newsroom was the culmination of Mandel and Sultan’s collaborative projects dealing with mass media imagery. They approached it as a workshop, an evolving exhibition, in which they hoped to learn as well as present facts about the methods of news media and create awareness of the mutability of photographic meaning. However, as artists, they were freed from journalistic restraints. They were free to pair texts that were unrelated to the images they accompanied, or to juxtapose images that together took on symbolic or lyrical meaning. “It was as if the news of the day found its way into the poetry section (if only newspapers had such a thing)—fragments of time and the real world were woven into something more mythic or allegorical.”[i] They also became aware, as Mike Mandel said recently, “that there were lots of images that would never be used as part of the news, which had all kinds of metaphorical possibilities.”[ii] They selectively enlarged some of the more evocative images that the media neglected (this required racing back and forth across the Bay Bridge between the museum in Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute’s darkroom). One mural-size enlargement of a photo of astronaut-turned-Senator John Glenn revealed a mysterious, shadowy image of a man to his left rear that viewers were left to make of what they would. The man was probably a secret service agent; alternatively, as Mandel humorously suggested, Glenn “didn’t realize that the devil was behind him, controlling him, until we made him large enough to discover that.” Another mural showed a promotional shot of Howard Hughes’s ill-fated Spruce Goose mega-hydroplane with two uniformed football players standing atop it to emphasize its enormity. The text the artists selected to pair with the mural on an adjacent wall was, “Kemp said he didn’t care. ‘I think it’s important for all those young people out there, who someday hope to play real football, where you kick it and run with it and put your hands on it, a distinction should be made that football is democratic capitalism, whereas soccer is European socialism.’” At one point the artists mounted a grid of four unidentified politicians along with the appropriated text: “A call for a halt on production and deployment, as a priority, would have the practical effect of diminishing the prospects for achieving the deep reductions we are seeking.”