For leisurely holiday reading next week I would suggest picking up a copy of Sigrid Calon’s new book “Within the Grid and Beyond the Pattern: 120 Compositions in Form & Colour,” stencil printed on RISO. While not a photobook, the process used to make and print this books is a “photo” copy technology. The copy in hand is edition number 189 of 420. On the dust jacket turn-in around the back board the author includes the following description:
“This work arose out of my fascination for a grid. An embroidery grid, to be precise, with a minimal basic grating of 3 x 3 dots. With these dots, 8 different (embroidery) stitches can be made: one horizontal, one vertical, one 45 degrees to the right, one 45 degrees to the left, one 26.5 degrees to the right, one 26.5 degrees to the left, one 63.5 degrees to the right, and one 63.5 degrees to the left.” Following a discussion about lines as they are translated by a computer, there is a discussion of the unique qualities of the Risograph copier (the effect of screen printing with the ease of photocopying). She continues, “I have chosen to work with 8 colours: fluorescent pink, blue, orange, brown, yellow, green, black and red. … The colour combinations have been teh starting point for the book. 8 colours generate 28 two-colour combinations and 56 three-clolur combinations. Four-colour combinations make 72 options appear. Out of these I have made a selection of 28 so as to have a good basic combination of 4 compositions per A3. Each colour combination in this book appears only once.” There is a brief note about gradations and layers.
Sigrid’s book is a great introduction to color and color processes is a perfect segue to my second title for holiday reading or browsing: “Color: American Photography Transformed,” by John Rohrbach with an essay by Sylvie Penichon. Published by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the University of Texas, Austin, and The William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere.
The table of contents include: Forward by Andrew J. Walker, Introduction, One: inventing color photography, Two: defining color (1936-1970), Three: Using color (1970-1990), Four: interrogating color (1990-2010), from potatoes to pixels: a short technical history of color photography, list of plates, bibliography, acknowledgments, Index. Color reproductions throughout are all very high quality, and the book itself is over sized, allowing for enjoyment of large images. An excellent book.
For those of you who are less interested in an artist book, or in a large coffee table book, you might aim for something a little more cerebral: “Minor Photography: Connecting Deleuze and Guattari to Photography Theory,” edited by Mieke Bleyen, published by Leuven University Press, 2012. The book is broken up into three parts.
Part 1: Towards a Theory of the Minor
“From Stuttering and Stammering to the Diagram: Towards a Minor Art Practice?”
“Tichy as a Maverick: Singular figure of a Minor Photraphy?”
“Always in the Middle: the Photographic work of Marcel Marien. A Minor Approach”
Part 2: Major Artists – Minor Practice?
“Fear of Reflections: the photoworks of Paul McCarthy”
“Considering the Minor in the Literary and Photographic works of Rodney Graham and Tacita Dean”
Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
“Entertaining Conceptual Art: Dan Graham on Dean Martin”
Eric C.H. de Bruyn
Part 3: Surrealism in Variation
“Towards a Minor Surrealism: Paul Nouge and the Subversion of Images”
“Conceptual Art and Surrealism: an Exceptional, Belgian Liaison”
“Systematic confusion and the total discredit of the world of reality: Surrealism and photography in Japan in the 1930s”
Cheers! And have a great holiday week!
photobook, photo books, artists’ books, artists’ publishing, self publishing, independent publishing
So what’s in a name? Or more to the point, what’s in a descriptive phrase? How do we as curator’s, makers, and librarians parse the difference between new publications and publication types that build on the history of 20th century artists’ books and zines?
I have been puzzling over this for the past 15 years, more so in the past five. Ever since attending the second annual self published photobook and zine fair at CCNY, where I first saw artists blending genres, mixing up zines/artists books/photo books/magazines. Often each genre type was referred to or used by different artists though the format remained the same. Interesting and vexing. For the curator this was an interesting change or nuance within the publishing arena. As a library cataloger, of which I am not but work closely with, this was vexing to say the least. Drawing upon historic knowledge a self published or independently published work by an artist might be referred to as an artist book (by the artist/author). A publication of the same size, format, binding, and similar photographic content, by a photographer, might be called a photo book or photo zine. Or vice versa, or neither, or one or the other.
“Proving Ground” by Jason John Wurm, 2013, includes the following colophon note “All photographs were taken on and around the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.” And the copy in hand is number 7 of 20. A limited edition – borrowing the conventions from find printing, or printmaking. The format is that of an 8.5 x 11″, staple (2) bound pamphlet. Red card stock cover and white pages, each with a snapshot photograph, color laser printed recto and verso. Each page has a different image with large white borders. The images are unremarkable: interior and exterior images of domestic spaces, portraits, and snaps of people. I bought it for two reasons: one, it is from Maryland and my library is in Baltimore, so there is regional significance, and two, the publication is genre ambiguous. It could be a zine, it could be a photobook or photo zine, or it could be an example of artists’ publishing. Better yet, it could simply be self published or independently published.
A similar work is by the New York artist Lindsey Castillo that is untitled, using color laser printed images and text, also taking advantage of 8.5×11″ sheets folded and stapled to make a pamphlet. She includes images of woman throughout in a washed out light gray and white, with two snaps of a young woman in work wear as a center fold, if that. The text is from the author’s resume and various rejection letters, with elements blackened out much like the CIA does with top secret documents. I selected this book, as with the previous title, because it falls into several genres. But also because it is representative of other works by artist’s documenting their experience in the workplace, or applying for jobs, rejection letters is also another theme in similar works from previous decades. This book, this artist, comments on their experience in this economy and job market; representing the current environment.
A third such publication is “We Are All” by Cheryl Dunn. This little (insert genre term from above) publication is again a staple bound pamphlet book using color laser printer or similar technology to fix the images to the paper pages. All the images, again, rely on snapshots, most in color, some in black and white. For this book the images are of people, seemingly concert goers at a very large outdoor concert. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, might be another over used theme-description. Why did I purchase this publication? Again, it is representative of a contemporary genre type recalling an amateur Nan Goldin, if you will, but without the , or what Roland Barthes refers to as the punctum, in his book Camera Lucida. Little photo books/zines like this are so common that many people pass them over, but they clearly are a sub genre unto themselves.
To make this point, check out “11:15 / 21:09″ by campanhiarapadura.com. Again, the format of a staple bound pamphlet binding on white 8.5×11” sheets folded in half. Color and black and white images in the shape of snap shots with generous white borders. The images are more aligned to those of “Proving Ground” but of an urban landscape in another country. Again, unremarkable overall. Yet, still compelling within its own sub genre.
Stay tuned to this blog. I will post further examples of similar works, but ones that differ in intent/content.
Right now I am working on a future blog post, scanning book covers and working up an essay.
In the meantime, I would like to briefly review a selection of some of the books that are on my desk, and in my office, that have persistently remained as others come and go.
I have a bound journal, Artforum vol. 3, Sept-June 1964-1965. I am reviewing by browsing art history journal titles from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, looking for articles on or about photography. Tracing the literature. This includes looking at which books were being reviewed, which photography exhibitions were discussed, and reading artist/photographer interviews. I am also looking at gallery and museum exhibition announcements, advertisements, and other traces. This is an interesting and daunting process. I am using Zotero to manage my bibliography and citations as I slog through this process of discovery.
I have a small publication titled “Publishing as (part-time) Practice: the Swedish graphic designers edition) that I picked up at the 2012 NY Art Book Fair. What is interesting about this publication is that the graphic designers that created it following a daylong symposium in Stockholm in May of 2012 assert the relevancy and primacy of authorship in creative publishing by designers. Essentially making a place for designers within a field previously privileged by “artists” making artist books. Designers are making similar works in this century but it does not seem right to call these same/similar publications “artist books”. Independent publishing by designers, or independent publishing by artists, seems more true to form.
I also have a 1997 copy of Lucy Lippard’s 1973 book “Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972.” This is the first California paperback edition. The contents, in review, include “escape attempts,” Author’s Notes, Preface, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, Postface, and Index. If you have always meant to read this book but have not, and you are interested in conceptual art and photography, I encourage you to pick this book up, or check it out from your library. Then I’d encourage you to read through the catalog published by the Brooklyn Museum of Art last year for an exhibition related to this publication.
Of course I still have a copy of 10 x 10 American Photobooks on my desk. (Noted in a previous post)
I have a file folder from our Library‘s Vertical File for Stieglitz, Alfred. This folder includes the following:
1) “Stieglitz in the Darkroom,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, October 4, 1992 – February 14, 1003.
– A 14 page catalog, or pamphlet, really, with an essay, notes, selected further reading list, and glossary of terms.
2) “Alfred Stieglitz: at Lake George,” June 20-September 22, 1996.
– A single fold exhibition announcement.
3) “The Yale University Library Gazette,” April 1951, vol. 25 no. 4.
– Opening to and starting on page 123 and running through page 130, is an essay by Doris Bry that starts with “What is Stieglitz?”
4) “Alfred Stieglitz and an American place, 1929-1946,” May 2-June 2, 1978, Zabriskie Gallery, 29 West 57 Street, NY 10019.
– A pamphlet, staple bound, 12-page catalog. One page essay, 6 photograph reproductions, one photo per page, Check list of photographs by Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Alfred Stieglitz, and paintings by Charles Demuth, Arthur G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Georgia O’Keefe. There is a note, too, thanking and listing lenders to the exhibition.
5) Alfred Stieglitz, An exhibition of photographs by, March 15 to April 27, 1958, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
– Includes a forward by John Walker, Director, and an essay by Doris Bry, followed by a check list of prints in the exhibition, a chronology, and bibliography, then selected plates from the exhibition.
Two other books of note, on my desk, are “Cultural Hijack: Rethinking Intervention,” edited by Ben Perry, et. al., and “Fully Booked: Ink on Paper,” published by Gestalten. Both are quite interesting. The latter relates to the Swedish publication, noted above.
Have you seen “A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial“? Authors are listed as Joanna Lehan, Kristen Lubben, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers. The Executive Director, Mark Robbins, introduces the book with “Out of Order: Director’s Forward.” The curatorial team further introduces the book and themes with short essays. The themes include: Analog; Artist as Aggregator; Collage; Community; Mapping and Migration; Post-Photography; Self-Publishing; The New Aesthetic. Following this introduction are entries for artists, including a brief sketch, place and year of birth, where the artist currently lives, and some color plates. The photographers include: Roy Arden, Huma Bhabha, Nayland Blake, A.K. Burns, Aleksandra Domanovic, Nir Evron, Sam Falls, Lucas Foglia, Jim Goldberg, Mishka Henner, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Oliver Laric, Andrea Longacre-White, Gideon Mendel, Luis Molina-Pantin, Rabih Mroue, Wangechi Mutu, Sohei Nishino, Lisa Oppenheim, Trevor Paglen, Walid Raad, Nica Ross, Michael Schmelling, Hito Steyerl, Mikhael Subotzky/Patrick Waterhouse, Shimpei Takeda.
What is on your desk?
In late September when I visited the Berlin Art Book Fair: MISS READ, I had the pleasure to meet and visit with most of the vendors. In my last posting I shared information about the September Issue, which I picked up at the fair. During my visit I also had the pleasure to be introduced to Erik Steinbrecher by the artist Michalis Pichler. A couple of days later following a tour of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the curator, Dr. Michael Lailach gave me a copy of “UBER ALLES” that was co-published with the author, Erik Steinbrecher.
“UBER ALLES” was published in 2013. The ISBN is 978-3886-097326, and the current price is 35.00 euros. Erik was gracious enough to provide a short description of this project:
“This artist’s book is a collection of eleven items including booklets, photography,
posters by Erik Steinbrecher. This publication accompanies the artist’s exhibiton
at the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin from 8 November 2012 to 17 February
2013. The show presents books, prints and other artworks from 1995 to 2012.”
The titles of the items included in the bag UBER ALLES are:
1 Paar Schuhe/ pair of shoes
Wie am Schnu?rli
Free Poster ( Ei/ egg)
Erik Steinbrecher, born in 1963 in Basel, lives and works in Berlin. His work has developed in two main directions: the area of architecture and sculpture and the realm of photography. The artist not only realises more and more projects in public space, but he also takes a passionate interest in images of the mass media.
I am including some images of UBER ALLES in this posting.
What is most impressive is Erik’s publishing record. Since starting to explore the arena of Independent Publishing he has produced many more titles than most artists produce in a lifetime of publishing. I will post a few more examples of his photobooks in a few days.