The First/Last Newspaper

Dexter Sinister


Commissioned by Performa for Performa '09, the third edition of the New York City-based biennial of visual art performance, publishing imprint Dexter Sinister transformed BLANK SL8 (pronounced “Blank Slate”)—a “pop-up” hosting space facing the New York Times building and adjacent to the Port Authority terminal—into a fully-functioning press office, writing, editing, designing, and distributing a broadsheet newspaper across the city. During the three weeks of the biennial, Dexter Sinister invited writers, artists, and designers including Steve Rushton, Jan Verwoert, Rob Giampietro, Dan Fox, Walead Beshty, Jason Fulford, Sarah Gephart, Tamara Shopsin, Mariana Castillo Deball, and others to collaborate with The First/Last Newspaper, reflecting on the unstable condition of contemporary news and related medias.

Taking the form of a broadsheet—the original, large-format, single sided newspapers first produced in Europe in the 17th century—the six newspapers produced during the project were distributed both in folded form and as flat sheets for public reading in various locations around the city. Under the editorial supervision of Dexter Sinister and the Performa curatorial team, The First/Last Newspaper office’s site at BLANK SL8 was transformed into a hub of ongoing activity, including a series of screenings, lectures, and meetings, often related to other material presented as part of the Performa 09 biennial.

The newspaper workshop acted as a transparent, cybernetic model of the production of information and knowledge, allowing passersby to physically encounter the production space.