Could you please present yourself and your activities.
GAGARIN The Artists in their Own Words is a unique international artist’s magazine (°2000), entirely dedicated to the publication of especially written and unpublished texts by artists who are now working, anywhere in the world. The texts are published in their original language and alphabetical writing with the addition of an unabridged English translation. GAGARIN has published artists’ texts in Albanian, Arabic, Azari, Basaa, Bete, Bulgarian, Cherokee, Chinese, Cipher, Cyrillic, Dutch, English (American & standard), Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Polish, Russian, Samoan, Slovak, Spanish, Thai, Transvaalian, Turkish, etc. Advertising and visual material are deliberately kept out. In close cooperation with the Research Centre of Artists’ Publications / Archive for small Press & Communication (ASPC) in the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen (D), GAGARIN features a regular column with an index of artists’ publications, texts and interviews which have appeared worldwide.
GAGARIN takes a specific editorial stance inspired by the following quote by John Baldessari (°1939 LA): “Talking about art simply is not art. Talk can be art, but then it’s not talking about art”. This statement is an excerpt from his answer to question 110: “What are the dangers about too much verbalization about art? What does too much mean? What kind of people fear verbalization? Can a person who wants to appreciate works of art escape verbalization entirely?” The questions for the interview (by Meg Cranston) were taken from Lester D. Longman’s book “911 Questions in Art”‘ (William C. Brown Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa, 1950). Which of the 911 questions were to be asked was determined by throwing dices. The interview was published in its entirety in Journal of Contemporary Art, volume 2 #2, Fall/Winter 1989.
GAGAR aims to focus not on the textuality but on the possibility that – almost against the odds – a space is opened up. GAGARIN chooses articles which may be non-specialist and which do not set out to be articles. Neither are they chosen for this reason, but in the hope that links with the artist’s practice will be established in the margin of the textual, and that those links will also prompt reflection about the field in which they develop. Its position is artistic, documentary and historical. GAGARIN is aimed at those who do not tend to wait until everything is accepted and synthesised and those who are prepared to leave the road to search for stimulating art and ideas while they are still fresh. GAGARIN strives for a compilation of artists’ texts whose content refers directly to the work of the artist. GAGARIN’s object is to provide an accurate source of information about contemporary artists using their own words.
GAGARIN is published twice a year and is published by GAGA vzw, Oosterweelsteenweg 3, Antwerp, Belgium.
What about the aspects of artistic independence and financial autonomy?
GAGARIN joins forces with several enthusiasts and supporters. First and most important there are the participating artists of course. GAGARIN is very much their project since, once invited, GAGARIN accepts their contribution with great esteem for their free choice of form and content. Furthermore, GAGARIN is sponsored logistically by the International Artists Residence AIR in Antwerp (Belgium) offering free office space for GAGARIN in their building, a former lock man’s house in the old harbour of Antwerp. GAGARIN is also supported by the Government of the Flemish Community in Belgium. Since 2010 and starting with the 21st issue, GAGARIN, is also sponsored with an agreement for 3 years, by the Museum for Contemporary Art S.M.A.K. in Ghent. In the agreement, the total independence of GAGARIN is stipulated with great care. With this agreement, GAGARIN entered the mental art collection of the S.M.A.K..
What about the “author/graphic designer/printer/publisher/distributor complicity” in such editorial projects?
The graphical concept of GAGARIN is (since Gagarin #1 in 2000) made by the designers Simon Casier and Petra Fieuws in Brussels. Their work is wonderfully at terms with the editorial concept of GAGARIN and warrants all necessary space needed by the individual artists. GAGARIN changes printers very often. It seems too delicate a task for many of the industrial printers of today. They are often or too big, or too automatized. GAGARIN is distributed worldwide by Printed Matter (New York), Motto Distribution (Berlin), Antenne Books (Londen), Celt (Antwerp), Mediabus (Seoul),… Furthermore, GAGARIN is very much a one men show by its publisher, Wilfried Huet.
What about DIY/ Home Made / Tradition and technical aspect in your practice?
GAGARIN is made with joined forces by the participating artists, the publisher and the graphic designers. Almost every single artist’s contribution has its own specific artistic demands and exigencies. GAGARIN has published a great variety of contributions: from a one word piece by Annette Messager (“Rumeur”) up to a 30 pages text in cipher written by Willem Boshoff in a South African Jail and everything in between those two and left and right from that. Each piece strives to be a piece of art in its own right and a “shortcut” to the art work of the artist itself. GAGARIN does not publishes texts because they are mainly texts, but works of art. Works that, almost against the odds, create a new opening for those who not tend to wait until everything is accepted and synthesised and those who are prepared to leave the road to search for stimulating art and ideas while they are still fresh.