Tatiana Trouvé’s ‘From March to May’ at Gagosian New York Recontextualizes Early Pandemic Headlines

Above: TATIANA TROUVÉ, “March 23rd, The New York Times, USA; Le Soir, Belgium,” from “From March to May”, 2020, detail, Inkjet print, pencil, and linseed oil on paper, 16 5/8 x 23 1/4 in, 42.1 x 59.1 cm

French-Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé achieved notoriety via her large scale installations that often times referenced notions of architecture, and uniquely interacted with the spaces in which they were placed. Though she has been quoted as saying, “Time is the theme underlying all my work. The only thing we know for sure about time is how to calculate it.”

Time, of course, is what so many artists had a lot of on their hands the last eighteen months, with physical exhibitions – and social lives – almost completely shut down. Ms. Trouvé found herself alone and isolated in Paris (though we could think of worse things), and used the opportunity to undertake a daily series of drawings, incorporating inkjet-printed reproductions of assorted newspapers from around the globe. The resulting series, pithily titled From March to May, will be showing at Gagosian New York from September 18 through October 30, if this thing called Delta Variant doesn’t have other ideas.

Working with graphite, ink, and linseed oil, she sketched atop each paper’s front page, in some cases slightly obscuring ominous headlines like, “Virus sounds death knell for burial rites” in Kenya’s The Star, and in others actually emphasizing the headline, as with the Sunday Times of South Africa’s “The war we have to win,” which shows an extremely well-armed soldier stalking the empty city streets of what might be assumed to be a locked down Johannesburg.

In one instance, a familiar story from spring of 2020 blares from France’s Le Soir, “Masques: face a la pénurie l’inquiétude” – which roughly translates to “Masks: in the face of scarcity, worry” – a PPE shortage which was a very new and very real threat at that moment. It’s juxtaposed with a New York Times front page, in which snippets of a headline read, “Virus Will Require” and “Experts Say,” whilst the rest is obscured by her illustration…perhaps reminding of the unreliability of information in the earliest weeks of the COVID outbreak.

The are precedents, surely, as both Picasso and Juan Gris employed scraps of Le Figaro into their Cubist paintings, and Rauschenberg most notably collaged headlines of the day. But Trouvé’s new series has a particular sort of immediacy and poignancy, considering the works were made within the context of what at the time seemed like a possibly apocalyptic health threat to the very existence of mankind. Yet it’s also a reminder of how the media, in times of crisis, can both drive us apart, and hold us together at once.

“When quarantine was announced, newspapers from countries around the world that were being ravaged by the pandemic took on new meaning,” she explains. “I began, each day, to draw on the front page of a newspaper – it was a way of escaping the confinement, and of being connected to the strange atmosphere that was spreading around the globe with the virus. This world tour via headlines and front pages was like a journey in reverse. Suddenly, I could no longer meet the world unless the world came to me, through the newspapers.”

Tatiana Trouvé’s From March to May will be on exhibit at Gagosian New York, 976 Madison Avenue, from September 18 through October 30.

Below: TATIANA TROUVÉ, “April 3rd, The Star, Kenya,” from “From March to May”, 2020, detail, Inkjet print, pencil, and linseed oil on paper, 16 5/8 x 11 5/8 in, 42.1 x 29.5 cm

TATIANA TROUVÉ, “March 29th, Sunday Times, South Africa,” from “From March to May”, 2020, detail, Inkjet print, pencil, and linseed oil on paper, 16 5/8 x 11 5/8 in, 42.1 x 29.5 cm

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