Ripping It Up

A 9B pencil is the softest pencil available: It's almost liquid. If it weren't made of lead it would make great eyeliner. An artist can choose to use a light touch with it, of course, but Francesca Pastine doesn't. At “Alterations,” she shows three series, two of which involve the heavy application of graphite to newsprint, and one she made by slicing and curling Artforum magazines. She's interested in print publications, clearly. Back to the 9Bs: “Invisible Women” and “Iraqi Casualty” find Pastine layering their lead over pages of the New York Times in order to highlight certain images. The result reminds us of John Lennon's FBI file; the artist thinks it looks like “graphite leaf.” Either way, her chosen photos stand out in a sea of darkest black while the paper's uncovered, datestamped edges remind the viewer of their official status. In the third series, “Artforum Excavations,” exploded versions of the ultra-glossy last word in creative trends show an attitudinal, literal stab back at a publication that probably irritates a lot of artists.
May 29-June 14, 2008

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