The rest of us make the news
Exhibition by Eloise Schoeman and Marnus Strydom tells stories not about ‘Big People but The Rest of Us’
“Don’t become the story!”
This line is trotted out to journalists in training, and is generally good advice. It has to be balanced by the recognition that — at least since the advent of New Journalism and Gonzo in the 1970s — some of the best journalism breaks the rule. As the recent controversy around investigative journalist Jacques Pauw indicates, however, too much metajournalism (journalism about journalists) tends to reflect poorly on the profession. It means that something has gone wrong; a rule has been flouted, a well-established practice ignored. Pauw’s reputation has been dented, undermining the work of his fellow scribes.
The artist and the journalist are different here: artists regularly make themselves the story. We expect it of them. Indeed, in our solipsistic age, if an artist’s work is purely about documenting others, we can be sceptical. Where is the artist’s statement filtering our interpretive experience through biographical information or ideological claims? Where is the carefully curated public persona to complement (or overwhelm) the work itself?..