Date of Submission

Fall 2023

Academic Program

Art History and Visual Culture

Project Advisor 1

Alex Kitnick

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Founded in 1978 by the artist and writer Barbara Ess, Just Another Asshole was a publication that was both fundamentally inspired by contemporaneous media trends and wholly unlike any other publication. The first two issues of the publication, which are covered in the first chapter, were handmade, xerox-copied zines – made in a style comparable to downtown New York punk zines, but presenting appropriated newspaper clippings, collaged images of counterculture heroes, and the repeated phrase, “just another asshole,” all of which coalesce to present a critique of mass media. This critique is expounded upon in each subsequent issue of the magazine; over the next nine years, Barbara Ess would publish seven issues of Just Another Asshole, each in a different medium than the last. The third issue, covered in the second chapter, was published as a tabloid-style magazine, though this was not the only change; in addition to a new medium, the third issue was made collaboratively, coedited by Jane M. Sherry, and featuring submissions from over 100 artists. Each subsequent issue – consisting of a 4-page spread in Artforum, an album, a pulp paperback, and a photobook – continued to feature the work of Ess’s community and friends, such as Barbara Kruger, Dan Graham, Sonic Youth, Richard Prince, Kiki Smith, Jeff Koons, and her partner Glenn Branca, many of whom have since gone on to great fame. Each issue also continued Ess’s critique of mass media, using the specifications, meanings, and expectations associated with each given medium as a means to subvert and critique these meanings. This project, across six chapters dedicated to the seven issues, analyzes the relationship between punk values in the 1970s, the downtown New York community, and media theory through the lens of Barbara Ess’s Just Another Asshole.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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