The “Radical Edits” of Alexandra Bell Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

May 4 2017

Location: 

Brooklyn

The artist Alexandra Bell‘s “Counternarratives” series highlights journalism’s tendency toward obfuscation and slant.

In the spring of 2017, Alexandra Bell began wheat-pasting posters of edited and redacted pages of the New York Times on subway platforms and buildings around the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Titled “Counternarratives,” Bell’s series highlights the newspaper’s racist bias by juxtaposing a marked-up copy of a page with a second version, revised to remove the slant. In the first of these works, Bell replaced a story headlined “A Teenager Grappling with Problems and Promise” with a graduation photograph of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and the words: “A Teenager With Promise.” Drawn in by their recognition of the Gray Lady’s iconic layout and typeface, passersby are invited to follow Bell’s breakdown of the newspaper’s contribution to the racist mythologies of the dominant media discourse.

Subsequently featured in exhibitions at MoMA PS1 and Koening & Clinton, Bell’s street art project exemplifies the practices that mattered most in 2017. Art like hers spurs empathy by bearing witness to the effects of structural violence. It both does and indicates the work that needs to be done, centering interpersonal networks of care and maintenance that exist in subordination to larger, desensitized political structures.

Posted by ers558@nyu.edu on