AARON ZIMMERMAN


"Breaking Wind Over Breaking News" NYArts Magazine Vol. 9 N.1/2 (January/February 2004) pg. 70.



            The stART gang (Ward Sutton, Karen Sherman, Ralph Lewis, Catherine Porter, and Sue Unkenholz) put on the second installment of their multidisciplinary art series at Judson Church on the evening of October 9th. This time around it was called "Breaking News!" The subject: Mass Media news satire.
            Mr. "The Legendary" Joe Garden and Chad Nackers of The Onion gave a hilarious presentation of some of the most poignant Political headlines the Onion has featured in recent months. My favorites included "Rumsfeld makes jerk-off motions as Powell speaks at Cabinet Meeting," "Ashcroft Silences Reporters with a Warning Shot," and "Bush asks Congress for 30 Billion Dollars to Help Fight War on Criticism." The Onion has a great way of putting our nations leaders in stories that reveal their petty, inane, and ludicrous personality traits. And by exposing mania, mass fear, and cultural ignorance for what it is they effectively keep me aware of just how ridiculous America really is.
            Robert Smigel & J.J. Sedelmaier,showed their TV Funhouse version of the old ABC "School House Rocks" educational cartoons. This one didn't show us how to exercise our choppers (with some good hard food) or give lessons on how a bill goes through Congress but broke down just how the FCC and media monopolies work. It looked just like the original except this one seemed to be written by Noam Chomsky on acid.
            Tom Tommorrow's presentation of his strip "This Modern World" focused on the recyclable quality of his strips from 12 years ago when Bush senior was in office. Exposed in cartoons from yesteryear were the strange parallels in the ambiguous language of right and wrong, good vs. evil both father and son use in their rhetoric among other shallow ways of manipulating public consent. Tom's deadpan delivery of lines he'd written for his strips characters (which play along in an ironic way with Bush speak and mass media hysteria creation) was really hilarious.
            Also on display: A Jessica Lynch mocking piece from Comedy Central's hit The Daily Show with John Stewart, new art from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman (Maus), some previously published work from Ward Sutton's "Schlock and Roll," Peter Kuper of MAD's "Spy vs. Spy," Ted Rall of "Search and Destroy," and David Rees of "Get Your War On."
            The blurred lines between information, news, and entertainment were illuminated and mocked, but like the "War Culture" Show presented in the spring some of the video and performance work presented was heavy-handed and overly dramatic. Jim Stanzo's video piece, where the artist superimposed himself wailing over newscasts of Senate hearings, C-Span and CNN Desert Storm coverage, made me wince. And the performance where the dude cut himself and bled all over this glass table which he then broke karate-style (Ouch!) had an almost cult-like ominousness in the confines of The Judson Churches Auditorium. Nevertheless the stART team once again put together an event that had energy, great cartooning, and a delightfully harsh, left-of-center sense of humor.