CCNY’s Zine & Self-Published Photo Book Fair
This weekend at CCNY is The Americas: CCNY’s 4th Annual Zine & Self-Published Photo Book Fair. Stop by this Sat. and Sun. 8/3-4/13 from 12-6pm to browse tons of titles and support DIY art books. As stated on the CCNY site: “The curators – Jade Berreau, Lindsey Castillo, Victoria Gondra and Erik van der Weijde – each have backgrounds in publishing, with close ties to artists from all over the Americas. They have curated a wide range of work that reflects the region’s great diversity in art and culture. As in past years, all proceeds from the sale of zines and photo books will go directly to the artists or small publishers.”
I stopped by the fair this afternoon to check out this year’s featured work. Personal favorites included Alyse Emdur‘s “Prison Landscapes” and Carl Gunhouse‘s “Falling Apart” road trip photo book. Both books are for sale and there were still copies left as of late Saturday afternoon, so be sure to check it out tomorrow if you missed it today.
I love that CCNY has been doing this fair for 4 years now and hope that it continues as a venue for self-published works on paper to be seen and supported. It was great to see such a wide range of different examples of binding and publishing represented. In a time where it is so easy and affordable to make your own books from places like Blurb or Lulu, I really appreciated the variety of physical objects on display.
That said, I singled out Gunhouse and Emdur’s books because beyond appreciating their design, the content of the work stood out for me in its cohesiveness and execution. It is easy to fall in love with a book on a pure design level, especially when the artist is making something in a small edition made by hand that pushes the boundary of what a photo book can be, but personally I want to be as drawn to the images themselves and the story told through sequencing to get excited about any photo book. I saw some great examples of this at the fair that made it worth the trip to midtown on a weekend, but not as many as I’d hoped. I remember once hearing a photographer at a photo book club meeting in San Francisco say that he often makes artist books as a means to essentially package outtakes and random images into some kind of tangible art object. His implication being that if he didn’t make a book out of those images, however disparate those images might be, they may never see the light of day. As a photographer, there’s something great about this idea. It takes the pressure off a bit to be able to work on an idea and make a book out of it quickly and move on to the next idea. But I guess the critic in me questions: sure you can take a group of okay photos and make a little book out of them, but should you? I think there’s a case to be made for both sides of that discussion and plenty of examples to argue both sides on display at CCNY this weekend.