Print is not dead

Printed Matter NY Art Book Fair director Shannon Michael Cane shares his picks ahead of next weekend
By Tempe Nakiska | Art | 21 September 2014

Printed Matter was originally established as a support network for the growing interest in art publications and in reaction to the greedy gallerist systems of the New York art scene. This was 1976.

Over twenty years later, AA Bronson, co-founder of the legendary art collective General Idea and champion of the independent art distribution scene, kicked off the NY Art Book Fair in line with the same ethos. Today, it’s arguably the largest and most innovative art book publishing event in the world (the LA Art Book Fair, also founded by Bronson, would have to take a close second), supporting the rapidly growing popularity of print-based creative communication from the ground up. And they say print is dead.

“The book is a medium that allows an artist’s work to be accessible to a multitude of people in different locations at any given time,” says NY Art Book Fair director Shannon Michael Cane. “The more copies produced the more widely the work can be distributed; it is this potential to reach a larger audience that lends the book its social qualities and increases it’s political possibilities. In this way, the artists’ book can be an incredibly powerful communicative force.”

In anticipation of the 2014 edition next weekend we asked Shannon to pick his personal favourites from this year’s programme. It’s moments like this in which NYC is a pretty real place to be.

Highlights of the NY Art Book Fair 2014, selected by Shannon Michael Cane

Poetry from the halfpipe
For anyone even slightly familiar with the realm of skateboarding, the name Mark Gonzales will ring a few bells. Gonzales, thought of by many as the greatest skateboarder of all time, is also an artist and poet who has been producing zines (over 145, in fact) since the early 90s, featuring his own knack for verse and drawing. As part of the NY Art Book fair, Printed Matter presents the launch and signing of Non Stop Poetry, a publication chronicling Gonzales zines and the brilliant scribbles which make each one so unique. This is one to have and keep – and it goes without saying that the opportunity to grab a signed copy is golden. Go on.

Non Stop Poetry launch and signing, 7pm Thursday 25th September at the Printed Matter Booth

Cover, ‘Non Stop Poetry: The Zines of Mark Gonzales’ by Mark Gonzales. Courtesy Printed Matter

Cover, ‘Non Stop Poetry: The Zines of Mark Gonzales’ by Mark Gonzales. Courtesy Printed Matter

Norway’s finest
In partnership with the Norwegian Consulate General in New York, this year’s NY Art Book Fair presents KUNSTNERBØKER, a curated selection of 26 Norwegian booksellers, institutions, artists and independent publishers. The series will be accompanied by programming, screenings, exhibitions and interventions related to this cross-section of Norway’s artist book community, and includes the likes of ALBUM, Fukt MagazineBergen Art Book Fair + Bergen Zines, Kunsthall Oslo, Feil Forlag, VECTOR Artists Journal and Trollkrem.

KUNSTNERBØKER at the NY Art Book Fair: head to the NY Art Book Fair schedule for event details

Check it
Dirty Looks NYC is a platform for queer experimental film and video. They’re celebrates the release of their first publication, CHECK YOUR VERNACULAR, with a performance and screening event featuring work by Dynasty Handbag, Narcissister, Colin Self and Chris E. Vargas. It’s also an exhibition by the same name, commissioned by Rhode Island School of Design and assembling the objects, costumes and ephemera of contemporary queer performance.

Check Your Vernacular, 5-6pm Sunday, 28th September (as part of the Sunday Classroom sessions), MoMA PS1 Basement Theatre. The exhibition of the same name runs until 21st October at Memory Hall, Rhode Island School of Design

‘Check Your Vernacular’ cover artwork. Courtesy Printed Matter

Flyer, Check Your Vernacular. Courtesy Printed Matter

The real Moore
Lesser known about Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore is that he is a former employee of Printed Matter. So it makes sense that in advance of his forthcoming album launch he should take part in this year’s NY Art Book Fair. Moore will be performing live on the steps of PS1 at the opening night preview event. Afterwards he will be signing copies of a new chapbook of lyrics entitled The Best Day, published by Ecstatic Peace Library, so if you go to the performance make sure you head down and get the man’s signature on your very own copy.

Thurston Moore at MoMA PS1, 6pm Thursday, 25th September on the MoMA PS1 Staircase

Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore

Strung out and more
Book By Book: 2nd Edition is an installation by book artist Keith A. Smith. What does a book artist do, you ask? In the case of Smith, the term refers to the use of books as physical objects in the creation of art, a relative medium he pioneered in the 1960s and 70s. Basically, radical departures from traditional books. Press play on the below for a visual cue and stick it out (or skip) to the middle where stuff gets real crafty.

Featuring unique and editioned books, prints, and photographs from the 1960s to 2014, the installation also spotlights three images specially created by the artist to be released as special editions in conjunction with the fair. This is a mind bender for any bookworm: expect books that light-up, do not open, are unbound, are holy and strung together.

Book By Book: 2nd Edition, at the NY Art Book Fair Special Project Room T

Printed Matter presents the ninth annual NY Art Book Fair, from 26th to 28th September at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens. For info and the full schedule, head to the website.

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