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b. 1967, Lubin, Poland
Aleksandra Mir was born in 1967 in Lubin, Poland, and grew up in Sweden. She studied at Schillerska/Gothenburg University in Gothenburg (1986–87), School of Visual Arts in New York (earning her BFA in 1992), and the New School for Social Research in New York (1994–96). In much of her work, Mir solicits the participation of friends, acquaintances, and passersby in playful upheavals of social norms. She has unleashed her wry critiques on tourism in works like Life is Sweet in Sweden (1995), advocated for female bands in New Rock Feminism (1996), and documented women's reactions to recordings of cat-calling whistles in Copenhagen's central square in Pick Up (Oh Baby) (1996). For Cinema for the Unemployed: Hollywood Disaster Movies 1970–1997 (1998), Mir screened disaster genre films during a normal workweek (9 am–6 pm, Monday through Friday) and observed the varied attendance to challenge the definition of unemployment.
One of Mir's best-known works, The First Woman on the Moon (1999), interlaced issues of space travel, feminism, and imperialism when she staged a moon landing on a deserted Netherlandish beach, which she transformed into a moonscape with the help of bulldozers. The long linear display of found photographs that comprises HELLO (2000) fabricates an intimate community, connecting David Bowie, Jesus, Frida Kahlo, Liza Minelli, and Andy Warhol. For Daily News (2002), Mir solicited contributions from over a hundred friends to fabricate an alternative newspaper edition for September 11, the artist's birthday. For the project Living and Loving, begun in 2002, Mir composed poignant biographical magazines about ordinary individuals, starting with Donald Cappy, a campus security guard Mir met by happenstance. In 2003 Mir proposed the creation of a life-size replica of Stonehenge, an unrealized project appropriately named Stonehenge II, which she wanted to construct near the original. Through maps, renamed street signs, and other urban interventions, Mir wryly rendered Tokyo more “tourist-friendly” in Naming Tokyo (2003–04). Her video Organized Movement (2004) chronicles Mir's residency in Mexico City as she played with the cliché of American tourists attending Latin dance classes to launch discussions about broader forms of public, organized movements. She extended her critique of urban social interactions and isolation in The Big Umbrella (2004), for which she invited strangers to join her under a massive umbrella capable of sheltering sixteen people from the rain. In 2007 Mir, along with curator Paolo Falcone, art collector Marion Franchetti, and artists Luca De Gennaro and Salvo Prestifilippo, embarked on an 800-kilometer journey from Palermo to Venice in a 1977 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce, which they dubbed the “Sicilian Pavilion” in order to promote Sicilian culture and art at the 52nd Venice Biennale. For Newsroom 1986–2000 (2007), Mir copied approximately 200 covers of tabloids in felt-tip marker on oversized sheets of paper and mounted them in an overwhelming installation of gossipy footage. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, Mir printed one million postcards of such vistas as the Sahara Desert, Manhattan skyline, and Sydney Opera House, all overlaid with text declaring the image to be Venice.
Solo exhibitions of her work have been mounted at the New Museum's Window on Broadway, New York (1997); Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2004); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2004); The Power Plant, Toronto (2006); and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2006). Her work has also been included in major group exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial, New York (2004); The Shapes of Space at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007); and the Venice Biennale (2009). Mir lives and works in Palermo, Sicily.