Above The Fold

"Above The Fold" installation in progress
All 32 piles of the Above The Fold installation


Above the Fold continues my exploration of the afterlife of images and the politics of archiving. Close to 6,000 front page-sections of the New York Times are arranged according to content of the photograph above the fold to form a comparative and analytical sculpture. I began saving the front-page section of the Times in March 1999 when NATO started bombing Serbia during the Kosovo War. My idea was to have a stack of newspapers that signified a war. When the cease-fire was signed, a true resolution had not been reached, so I kept collecting. The World Trade Center was attacked, and I kept collecting. I have not stopped.

In analyzing and looking at the front-page images over the years, I saw history repeating itself in the form of recurring image tropes. I realized that I could classify the papers according to the subject matter of the photograph above the fold as a means to examine how news is visualized and transmitted. Categories presented themselves to me including men with guns, people holding photos, dead bodies, people grieving, memorials, protest, war and conflict, refugees and migrants, weather, natural disasters, sports, weather, U.S. presidents, politicians posing for photo ops or campaigning, and more. Over the years, the relative size of the categories change as trends emerge and boundaries are broken: more dead bodies appear, the number of photographs of refugees grow, images of protest appear more frequently, seeing men grieving is more common, and politicians’ photo-ops are often subverted. The tallest piles are U.S. Presidents and Men & A Few Women with Guns. The smallest is Arts & Fashion.

Since 2000, I have created several projects mining my newspaper collection, but none have dealt with the totality of the collection as Above the Fold does. [See Photographic Interference, Random Interference, and Reverb.] In the final installation, 32 stacks of New York Times newspapers will form the architectural landscape with an adjacent small screen playing a chronological slideshow of the front pages in the corresponding stack. Walking among the piles will allow viewers to explore in a very concrete form images that construct the news and make history.

"Above The Fold" installation in progress
Above The Fold installation in progress in my studio, January 2016


The second component of Above the Fold is a series of life-size photographs of the stacks of newspapers, where the piles become photographic monuments representing a history of the first 16 years of the 21st century. The newspapers in each photograph are from 2000-2015. They are in chronological order with the oldest being on the bottom, and are printed life size. Interestingly, the relative size of several of the piles has changed in 2015. Not surprisingly, Refugees and Migrants has grown tremendously as has Domestic Protests, largely because of the Black Lives Matter movement. The width of The New York Times changed in size in 2008, and the aging of the older newspapers are clearly evident.

Lorie Novak, 2016

The project will also include a series of animations.