For the past 25 years, artist Gugger Petter has worked with one main medium…newspaper. Back in 1986, when she first arrived to California, she noticed how the sun had yellowed a stack of newspaper on a deck, and found it “quite interesting.” She started to reflect on how she could possibly use this material. She soon found out that, by rolling the paper in tubes, she could create units which she could then manipulate into 3D forms – creating both wall and floor sculptures. Then, a couple of years later, she started to construct 2D works by the use of a weaving technique. “It all evolved quite fast,” she tells us, “as I managed to control the newspaper, and transform it from a fragile to a strong material.”
Of course, working with this sort of medium comes with its own set of challenges, especially since she’s confined by the colors of the paper. “The most difficult things working with newspaper, is actually what makes this material most interesting to me,” she says. “I have always been inspired by challenge, so when I decided to work with newspaper, it was in fact due to the limitations or difficulty this material presented – both in regard to color palette and fragility.
“My manipulation of the tubes makes my work very strong, and the color limitation is a challenge that inspires me for each work I create. If I one day no longer find newspaper challenging as a work material, I would no longer work with it. But so far I am very inspired by newspaper. Furthermore, I also love the information aspect and importance of newspaper.”
“At first glance, my works are perceived as paintings,” she says. “But when people step closer, they realize it’s not a painting, but a textured surface. Upon closer inspection, they recognize that the material is newspaper, and they are surprised.”