Jim Jarmusch Is Obsessed with Newspapers

Jim Jarmusch is an anomaly that revels in others. Known best as an independent filmmaker, Jarmusch also nurses a prolific art practice: he makes surrealist collages of found images and articles from newspapers. This fall, Jarmusch’s papery receipts make their way into the art world with a new book, Some Collages, out from Anthology, and a corresponding exhibition at James Fuentes in New York.

Cultured Magazine

Photography by Sara Driver

Jim Jarmusch. Photography courtesy of Anthology Editions.

What attracts you to newsprint as a medium?

Jim Jarmusch: I remember as a kid I received a microscope for my birthday. The first thing I examined through its lenses was a tiny scrap of torn newspaper. I was astounded. Instead of a single, solid, sheet-like material, it was in fact a tangled mass of threadlike fibers, a chaotic jungle of microscopic pulp. Fascinated, I then checked other types of papers, and some fabrics, which were also interesting and even unexpected—but nothing was quite like the texture of a newsprint. Ever since, the fragility and inherently temporary nature of this particular, and now nearly obsolete, material has attracted me.

And collage?

JJ: For years now I’ve been constructing these small, very minimal collages. I use only newsprint for their sources, and most involve only the removal and/or replacement of heads—possibly the most minimal way of reorganizing visual information. Faces and heads become masks for me, and I can change or switch identities, details and even species. The reproduction on newsprint of a drawn or painted head can replace a photographic one, or vice versa. I never use sharp cutting tools, like scissors or X-Acto knives, always preferring rougher, partially torn edges. This preserves that particular texture I first observed through my little microscope.

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