Manystuff: Could you please present yourself and your activities?
Roma Clemie: Kunstverein is a domestic franchise, a functioning curatorial office and foundation that offers presentations, lectures, screenings and independent publishing. By creating a critical pool and exploring public-private relationships, Kunstverein reflects upon the manner in which cultural practices are traditionally administered. Due to its unconventional make-up as a members’ orientated initiative, it allows alternative methods to be considered in terms of presentation, hosting and exhibition making.
Crucially we have developed our own production of publications entitled Kunstverein Publishing, which functions as the publishing umbrella of Kunstvereins Milano and New York.
Manystuff: What do you think is the role of an independent publishing house? Do you feel having responsibilities and a duty? Is the act of publishing a kind of activism and what for? What about your environment you are part of, how do you identify it?
Roma Clemie: The very notion of an independent publishing house is that it is context specific. The books that we publish are only produced when NEEDED, either (art) historically or more locally and can function in a number of manners – as testament, archive, manual, satire, critique, and subversive or poetic gesture. More often than not they are a composite of these elements. Consequently our publications act as a critical, primary outlet for Kunstverein to be able to provide a distinct voice in publishing, one that reaches beyond a general notion of publishing and becomes an important means of communication.
Manystuff: Some says that “Print is dead”. What resources and new kind of artistic relationships are in contradiction with that point of view? Is the increased complicity between ?curator/author/graphic designer/printer/publisher/distributor” the proof of the contrary?
Roma Clemie: We regard the inevitable flux between creative roles as vital to our output. One key strategy exploited by Kunstverein is the idea of anonymity. Our in-house magazine Ginger&Piss is the most vocal example of this – an initiation of a unique kind of relationship between author, publisher and audience. The journal is published twice yearly in a limited run and each issue contains a maximum of 6 contributions, of any length necessary. The concept dictates that each contributor writes under a pseudonym in order to provide an outlet for authors to say what they feel is vital (and not necessarily at all related to the art world) but may have been too ‘afraid’ to publish previously. By allowing a platform to exist for candid critique and at the same time enabling the author to hide behind a pseudonym, we recognize our own cowardice – as does the reader, now an actor complicit in the ruse. Ginger&Piss fully embraces its somewhat misleading bravery; we think it makes sense for now in our current cultural climate.
Manystuff: Could you mention one book publication, or publishing actor, or artist, or graphic designer, or printer, or exhibition, etc? that made you work in the field of independent publishing area? What inspired you?
Roma Clemie: Our current exhibition is a survey show of Ben Kinmont (born 1963, Vermont) entitled Prospectus. One project, This isn’t it (2004), can serve metaphorically as a description of Kunstverein’s publishing activities.
Kinmont outlines the work as follows:
‘A visitor passes through a museum, finds a spot, and while blowing up a balloon, thinks of something that isn’t art. The balloon is dropped, the visitor signs the nearest wall, and then leaves.’
Manystuff: Could you please introduce one of your upcoming project you are now working on?
Roma Clemie: Our next exhibition of 2011 is a show by Richard Kostelanetz in which the production of ‘words’ will be discussed through his four decades of artistic production. Richard Kostelanetz (born 1940, New York) is an American writer, artist, critic, and editor of the avant-garde.
In 1971, employing a radically formalist approach, Kostelanetz produced the novel In the Beginning, which consists of the alphabet, in single- and double-letter combinations, unfolding over 30 pages. Most of his other literary work also challenges the reader in unconventional ways and is often printed in limited editions at small presses. Kostelanetz’s nonfiction work The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America (1974) charged the New York literary and publishing establishment with inhibiting the publishing and promotion of works by innovative younger authors. His ‘visual poetry’ consists of arrangements of words on a page, using such devices as linking language and sequence, punning, alliteration, parallelism, constructivism, and minimalism.