June 8, 2012

Art installation commemorates slain journalists


Among the books I’ve been most humbled to contribute to in some small way, our collection of essays by the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Is Journalism Worth Dying For?, is surely near the top of the list. As you may recall, Politkovskaya’s assassination in 2006 was presumed by many to be linked to her critical writing about the Russian government.

A haunting new installation by Julian Koschwitz honors the memory of Politkovskaya and the hundreds of other journalists who have been killed in the line of work over the last two decades. The piece, titled “On Journalism #2 Typewriter,” consists of a solitary, self-propelled typewriter which composes stories about slain journalists and the dangers of their profession. Drawing from data collected by the Committee to Protect Journalists as well as an array of other online sources, the output combines names, quotes, images, and infographics to paint a picture of the important work that writers do around the world, as well as the horrors that sometimes befall them.

Perhaps most haunting, though, is the hollow click, click, click of the typewriter’s mechanism, which in this context sounds akin to a death knell. Watch the typewriter at work in the video above, then learn more about the installation from Koschwitz here.


Christopher King is the former Art Director of Melville House.