The Curse Conversations with Anita di Bianco

IMPAKT Festival 2022 The Curse of Smooth Operations

The IMPAKT Festival 2022 is back in November! To dive deeper into the themes of the festival, we present The Curse Conversations: a series of interviews with artists and speakers from the programme. For the first episode, we speak with artist Anita Di Bianco. Her work Corrections and Clarifications is part of the festival exhibition The Curse of Smooth Operations at Steenweg 26.

Q: Corrections and Clarifications is an ongoing newsprint project, launched in response to the glut of new reporting following 11 September 2001. The annual edition consists of daily revisions, retractions, re-wording, distinctions and apologies to print, online, and radio news. Could you tell us a bit more about how the idea of researching corrections came to be and why this concept fascinates you? Also is there a particular answer or result you are trying to find whilst researching these corrections and clarifications?

Although the very first edition of my newsprint project was printed and distributed in the Netherlands in 2001, this 2022 release is the first time I’ve focused on the Dutch press or printed corrections in Dutch.  At the moment Sophia Zwaveling at IMPAKT has been digging through the Dutch newspapers all summer for content; as the festival gets closer we’ll wind up our collecting (she in Dutch, me in English) and then all of this found material starts to take shape and speak for itself. And then it gets offset printed, which freezes the whole thing in time, hitting the button on the stopwatch…

Curiously, as a newspaper that reads backwards, I mean, the newest items are on the first column of the first page, and time rewinds from there to oldest items at the end of the publication, the project edges toward a more digital logic. In other words, each short text referring to or building on an [invisible] item from the day or week or month or even year before, the current replacing the recent, in an inexhaustible loop – a long string or series of todays. And each correction item is floated more like a tweet than anchored like properly credited and sourced news articles. 

The Curse of Smooth Operations is amazingly slippery as a thematic – it’s so difficult to tell when, by failing, systems are working exactly as planned, or whether they’ve truly gone awry along the way and this unintended chaos has become codified and redirected, a convenient distraction or clever disguise.

Q: This is not the first edition of Corrections and Clarifications, previous volumes of the work have been published before. What keeps you inspired to recreate a work you created before, but in a different language? What does it add to the work? 

Last year in 2021 with the hardbound book The Error is Regretted / Wir entschuldigen uns für diesen Fehler, I wanted to mark the 20 years both of the Corrections and Clarifications project and of the tremendous changes in news production and dissemination since September 11, 2001 when I started it – the changes in our collective expectations of news organizations, our attention shifting through online sources such as what for a time we called “citizen journalism”, the undercurrent of mistrust bounding into the rushing river of mistrust, the thick atmosphere of accusation of malicious intent on the other side, of diminishing expectation, diminishing experience of collectivity – broadly, the inconsolable disappointment in systems and structures.

I am starting to think that perhaps this disappointment isn’t only a problem of news and the ways that news platforms seek to hold and redirect our attention, but also maybe a problem of our expectations themselves – that the complexities and intricacies of geopolitics et alia can be summarized intermittently and in terse articles or online items, transmitted across outlets and newswires, and received ceaselessly and in good order – is an unreasonable expectation in itself.  Could we start to see news media, in all iterations, as a reflection of our contradictions and quandaries, a place for voicing paradox, ambivalence, insecurity, and uncertainty rather than looking to it for answers, insisting on clarity and vetted predictions?

Q: Which part of the festival are you mostly looking forward to?

Two events I’m absolutely looking forward to at Impakt this year are Alena Alexandrova’s performative reading Matter of Divergence on Sunday 6 November at Steenweg 26, and Delphine Bedel discussing her very current and extremely compelling research on early feminist publishing in France – also taking place at Steenweg 26 a few weeks after the festival, on 29 November.


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