June 26, 2020 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Alexandra Bell is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture. In her current series, Counternarratives, Bell edits New York Times articles, altering headlines, changing images, and redacting text to reveal oppressive patterns in news reportage and society at large. (9 min doc).
posted by dobbs (15 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, this is great stuff. Bell nails so much of the way how ideology is perpetuated by seemingly minor details that, in aggregate, are anything but minor as they act as a frame for how the dominant society views itself and others, in ways that all too frequently flatter bias and perception.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:26 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]

This is brilliant. As someone who has been a bit of a media scholar/thinker for decades (I deconstructed commercials for myself in my teens, and tune them out or avoid them all the time), I love what this woman is doing. I have never studied how newspapers present information in depth, but she is so entirely correct in what she is doing.

I love that she displays the original with mark-up and then the new version. It makes it clear exactly what is going on, and I would love to see more of this kind of thing all over.

It takes a special kind of mind to see these things, and I'm very glad she exists!
posted by hippybear at 7:56 PM on June 26 [7 favorites]

These are brilliant. The world needs a widely disseminated daily re-edit of the NYT like this...
posted by PhineasGage at 7:59 PM on June 26 [7 favorites]

This person is great! Her take is right on point. (Plus, how freaking crazy must the times be, to make the news photo of the year small, on the front page. The image from the white supremacist vehicular homicide, so dynamic, buried alongside a human interest piece. She is great, what an amazing project.
posted by Oyéah at 8:07 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

This is soooo good. I would watch a daily news recap that rewrites news this way, but i guess her best point is that we, as readers and consumers, can do this work too if we' re aware, every day, on our own. thanks for this.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:22 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]

The art is good, and the interview is great.

To your point OHenryPacey, I found these words of hers very interesting:

it's not meant to be like an indictment of news media, I could almost say that it's just as much an indictment of the reader
posted by haemanu at 8:58 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Really good. The New York Times in particular has always seemed like an incredibly racist paper to me, but I could never have articulated the mechanics of it as she does, clearly & cogently. I don't understand how she is able to remain so matter-of-fact about it. I'm not even a target of prejudice or even a citizen of the US, but I can't consume more than a few minutes of American media at a time without being consumed with disgust & revulsion.
posted by lastobelus at 11:17 PM on June 26 [7 favorites]

Fantastic artist, fantastic work. It is really really vital for art to engage with the news, as Bell articulated: when the cycle is so rapid, it gives so much the opportunity to fly under the radar unchallenged, and so much gets so swiftly forgotten.

A post on her instagram does the same thing: simply reposting a “fuck your statue” protester from Charlottesville in 2017 with the caption “still”. Still, the same things over and over again.
posted by Balthamos at 11:39 PM on June 26

Alexandra Bell's work is amazing. Thanks for the post, dobbs! Two things she said especially resonated with me:

"What you give space to and what you allow people to see says a lot," and "If you don't see yourself as maybe just as much of a problem in some ways as Trump, then what work are you doing?" That seems like an excellent question for me and other white people in general.

I love her work, which is totally new to me. It just sucks how crazy necessary it is.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:43 AM on June 27

Plus, how freaking crazy must the times be, to make the news photo of the year small, on the front page. The image from the white supremacist vehicular homicide, so dynamic, buried alongside a human interest piece
One thing I've noticed is the inexplicable actions of institutions make a lot more sense if you stop mentally screening out the more uncomfortable possibilities.

Why did the New York Times minimise the photo of a white supremacist act? They are white supremacists.
posted by fullerine at 1:53 AM on June 27 [8 favorites]

If you want to see her works up close, there's a gallery catalog here.
posted by whitewall at 3:00 AM on June 27 [6 favorites]

Awesome. Was not aware of her work before, thanks for posting this.
posted by carter at 3:47 AM on June 27

This is great. Alexandra Bell is my newest hero.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:38 AM on June 27

Love this. I’ve seen Bell’s posts around social media but didn’t realize she was a visual artist. Thanks for pointing her work out.

EDIT: Does anyone know if the NYT has responded to her work?
posted by photoslob at 10:12 AM on June 27

Outstanding project. I wish I could see these in person. Thanks whitewall for the link so I can look a little closer.
posted by obfuscation at 10:20 AM on June 27

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