Deborah Koenker / Drawing the World / Le Monde

is featured in issue 3.22 with her project  Drawing the World / Le Monde

Drawing the World / Le Monde, an extended series of drawings, began when I bought my first copy of the French newspaper Le Monde in Paris. Recently arrived in the city, I settled into La Cité internationale des arts in the Marais where I was to spend the next four months on a Canada Council International Residency. Over the course of that summer I would visit the same newsstand near l’Hôtel de Ville to buy Le Monde from the proprietor, a dignified Roma man; one of a tribe that historically has traveled the world. Our brief daily exchanges became a grounding ritual during my temporary sojourn in Paris. As a non-French speaker, I read Le Monde first through images, deciphering French text through my knowledge of Spanish. Out of this developed one of my Paris projects, to record all the pictures in Le Monde on a given day, to draw the world – while operating, of course, within the conceit of the grandiose ambit of the newspaper’s title, Le Monde.

Using carbon paper as an interface between newspaper and drawing paper created a sense of drawing ‘blind,’ the image emerging only after the removal of layers. Composing and layering images; inventing marks with fingers, fingernails, and erasures; selecting pencils for their line qualities; varying the speed and pressure of the drawn line; tracing lines, tones, and textures; turning the page around – from this a tangled, interwoven web of images emerged, at times as difficult to process as the world itself. The initial 21 drawings, completed in Paris — of which four are represented here — are small in scale. The subsequent works in the series are larger – using blue carbon paper, they are more ephemeral, less graphic. Some days I drew for ten hours straight. The process of drawing is determinedly slow in contrast to the chaos of daily events, the rapid overload of seemingly random information that makes news. Perhaps slowing down is one of the last radical actions possible, in the art world and in the world generally. Recording these fleeting pictures allowed me to access Paris in a peculiarly private way, creating a tangible, tactile archive in opposition to the speed of information. These drawings represent a paper archive of a newspaper still printed on paper, a rarity as news moves increasingly to on-line delivery.

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