In a very real sense, a newspaper contains nothing that lasts. The content filling its pages is relevant to the day it was printed, reflects the situation at the time it appeared and provides a snapshot of the public agenda at the moment it was published. Transience is part of its DNA.
The same is true of the material it is made of: One day later, it is already crumpled, torn, faded, yellowing and losing its original form - a perfect match between content and material that reinforces the newspaper's essence as a short-lived product. But the newspaper's main function is permanent, and has remained unchanged since the profession's earliest days. Its role is to transmit information, along with all the ancillary activities this entails, including collecting, organizing, prioritizing, packaging and presenting the information.
In the current era, however, filled as it is with an endless array of new technological horizons that promise an abundance of media platforms, existential questions are surfacing about the newspaper's continued viability in its present format. How will we consume information? What form will our new information provider take, both physically and in terms of content? Into what new creature might the reporter evolve? And how relevant will the values of journalism as we know them today be in the future? Journalism is now being confronted with these pressing issues, and they will force it to modify its DNA to adapt to the new reality.
These are precisely the points of the exhibition "What words are made of," a joint venture between Haaretz and students at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design's department of design: to challenge the provisional nature of the newspaper and produce from it a form and essence completely different from the original.
Each of the 120 works featured in the exhibition reverberates with the ultimate clash between these two starting points: Haaretz's culture section, Gallery, turned into a couch; the news pages turned into posters; the financial section, TheMarker, turned into a layered dress; and the political supplement, This Week, turned into a necklace. Using a variety of techniques - ripping, tearing, sewing, burning, melting, coloring, gluing, compressing, freezing, wrinkling, smoothing, moistening and drying - copies of Haaretz underwent radical and surprising transformations.
The viewer of these exhibits may become caught up in the underlying question that characterizes all artistic endeavors: What exactly is this thing before him? Is it a newspaper that was turned into a piece of jewelry, or a piece of jewelry that is actually a newspaper? And like any artistic endeavor, the items in this exhibit are open to endless interpretations.
There are those who will nevertheless try to cling to the newspaper in its most basic meaning: its layout, graphic language and physical structure. All of these are present in the works, whether openly or not, sometimes subtly and sometimes plainly: a dress whose lines correspond to the newspaper's lines when opened wide, a pendant made from the letters of the familiar Haaretz logo, a curtain made of dozens of news sheets.
But even when such distinctive features are remade into a work of design, or an element of design, this does not attest solely to the link between the paper and the artists. Above all, it is proof of the artists' ability to put into practice the basic techniques they learned during their studies, and thereby to turn into true designers: to convert the spiritual into the material, to process an idea into a product, to turn thought into action, to transform something transient into something eternal, and to transform words into substance.
What Words Are Made Of will be open to the public March 2-14, 2012, Sundays-Thursdays from 10 A.M. - 8 P.M., Fridays from 9 A.M. - 1 P.M., and Saturdays from 8 P.M. - 22. The exhibition is hosted by Gazit Globe Israel and is on display at 10 Nissim Aloni Street, Tel Aviv, Compound G, third floor.
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