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The Scriptorium

Artist Cristian Andersson’s newest art installation and performance piece explores the pervasive, and invasive, nature of contemporary breaking news.

“You get home from a long day of work, you go online, you hear the news. You never completely get away from it,” says Andersson, who owns Matchbook Studio in Appleton. “I wanted to show what that physically looks like.”

The installation consists of three parts: 25 handwritten paper panels, a live audio performance and an interactive sculpture. The paper panels, which stand 9 feet tall and span 37 feet wide, are covered top to bottom in handwritten transcriptions of the news Andersson consumed through his social media accounts and news alerts over a six-month stretch. 

“On Twitter, I started following a Democratic line and a Republican line as well as artists and art curators to get three different veins of what the overwhelming news seems to be right now,” he says. 

All told, Andersson will have invested over six 40-hour work weeks of continuous writing to create the panels. “I really hurt,” he says. “Physically, my wrist, shoulder and arm are so sore. But my heart and my head are also extremely heavy right now. There was a solid week where I was just writing about a school shooting.”

During the gallery show, Andersson will speak into a computer program developed by Milwaukee artist Jessica Fenlon. The audio will mimic the news cycle – getting louder and quieter at intervals, the way certain storylines get top billing before falling out of favor and eventually cycling up again.

Part of the installation is an interactive sculpture that Andersson calls “the cocoon.” “It will be the one place you can get away from everything else going on in the gallery and just center on yourself,” he says. 

That being said, one of the biggest realizations Andersson had during the project was the need to interact with viewpoints different from one’s own. 

“It’s super important for us not to isolate ourselves in our own little bubble, but to really try to hear what other people are saying,” he says. “It’s the only way to solve things.” 

See The Scriptorium at Appleton’s Feather and Bone Gallery inside The Draw on May 18 and 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. or at Algoma’s The Jabberwock on June 1 and 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit cristianandersson.com/scriptorium 

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