If you walk into Space 1026’s latest outing expecting a coherent art show, you’re bound to be disappointed. Mothers News is a trippy, chaotic take on self-expression, focusing on a Providence newspaper of the same name, which walks a fine line between punk aesthetic and sheer random humor.
Mothers News is a free newspaper that is published monthly and distributed in Providence — where it reportedly has a cult following — as well as several other cities. Space 1026 in Chinatown, in their inimitable style of lo-fi exhibitions, has made an art show out of the newspaper, with newsprint broadsheets from the paper on display in addition to an enjoyable and eclectic collection of doodles, original art and random objects.
Each month’s issue includes indie comic strips, art, word searches, and articles and essays ranging in tone from the cheerfully barbaric to the profound and hilarious. Each issue has an unpredictable centerfold, such as a picture of an Oriental rug.
As an art show, it’s definitely uneven, but that should be expected, since the creator of Mothers News deals mostly in the written word. Editor-in-chief Jacob Berendes typically fills the front page of each issue with a meandering prose-poem, in which he meditates on the month, the season, or whatever random thoughts wander through his mind. These lengthy texts are resistant to being read, yet strangely enjoyable. It’s like listening to a hyper-intelligent child with attention deficit disorder, who speaks atonally and without interest or effort but can occasionally bring forth unique, beautiful phrases. From a March issue:
Ayooooooooooooo maybe it doesn’t seem like spring when you’re reading this, because this winter was pretty bogue, but check this out: it’s spring. But also: is it? Spring begins meteorologically on March 1st, and socio-politically on March 21st (the equinox). So at some point this month, I don’t care if it blizzards or whatever, it’s technically spring. But… is it? I didn’t come to all-the-way dread this winter this winter, so I can’t help but greet the oncoming spring with… unease? Like a rug that’s just going to get yanked. Can that live again which never regular died? Any given snake needs a rough patch of rock to rub against to shed its skin – will we be able to achieve that? Is it going to rain? I hope so….
The art chosen for this show feels closely linked to the aesthetic chaos that Mothers News represents, with a gritty punk feel to the general show. An untitled drawing by Cybele Collins was the strongest traditional artwork at the show.
The show also includes an installation of a uselessly elaborate plywood printing press, with which attendees at the show’s opening could make prints of a single vertical line. There are also some random objects on a shelf, lending a domestic quality to the show – as if we’ve entered a room in the mind of Mothers News’ creator.
Is it all a commentary on the newspaper as object? Or is this just the dream zine of a more artistic version of David Sedaris? It doesn’t seem to matter to Berendes, who once told an interviewer that what most satisfies him about Mothers News is seeing a used copy blowing down the street in the wind, or seeing a person caught in a downpour hold it above his/her head as a makeshift umbrella. With logic like that, how can Mothers News possibly go wrong?
The Mothers News show will be on display at Space 1026 through September 29. Copies of the Mothers News paper are distributed in Philadelphia at Space 1026 and The Marvelous record store in West Philadelphia.