Before the internet, newsstands were the closest thing we had to a web browsing experience. You could go there, buy specialist papers and magazines, check out the contacts sections, the classified ads, and see all the niches you could initiate yourself into. Through the printed press you were able to discover new things, it was the main knowledge distribution channel. With most of this now moving online the fetishistic element is not the same. Although there are some web-based attempts to create a similar interface to the newsstand, it’s visual power of the newsstand is unique.
For me a newsstand is a form of information architecture, a superstructure or a special building with inhabitants that change periodically. It’s an amazing tool with which to analyse the world and contemporary society. The matter of what will happen to newsstands as printed material begins disappears is something that is already visible: they're converting into lottery card retail points, as well as beverage and snack stands. But maybe they will have a different use in the future? I'm thinking of creating The Newsstand Museum, a museum with different newsstands from different countries and periods. Every stand will show the content exactly as it was in a specific time and place.
For Philagrafika I presented a newsstand for which I created all the printed content: a magazine formed by 120 covers and a newspaper which reproduced 12 different front pages. With these two publications I was able to build the ‘skin’ of the newsstand. I added speech bubbles to the covers, and recreated some important characters of the city mixed in with references to different neighborhoods, institutions, shops and bars.
My idea was to create an analogy of the city and my experiences, initial reactions and perhaps prejudices about Philly after a having been there for just a short residency period. I added a narrative layer around three main subjects: the city as the place where graffiti culture started, the city through which the AIDS crisis was imagined in the 1993 film Philadelphia, and finally the city’s Mural Arts Program, a (successful to some) anti-graffiti initiative. Through the different layers of newsstand I attempted to approximate the complexities of the city, as well as race, gender and class issues.
— Excerpts from the interview made by Latitudes for the catalogue of The Last Newspaper —