The Novel That Writes Itself is a finished whole of a novel in progress, initiated in 1978 by the Conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg.
It all begins with the end of a story, the one about the Colby Poster Printing Company that shut down in December 2012, taking with itself an emblematical graphic identity into history. A Colby poster can be easily distinguished from others and bear the stamp “from L.A.”. Multicolored posters with unexpected gradients of flashy, typically Californian colors, the Colby posters, covered with outrageously bold characters, do not respect any typographical rules. Allen Ruppersberg was one of their most faithful and regular customers.
It begins also in 1978, when Allen Ruppersberg has an idea of a work in progress which he would call The Novel That Writes Itself, and which he would make in the shape of a fictionalized autobiography where he would talk of his adventures as a young artist, which he is at the time.
In parallel to this project, he starts to produce aphorisms or enigmatic questions printed on multicolored posters. These posters, the famous Colbys, start to show up at his exhibitions around the middle of the 1980s. He realizes in 1990 that in fact “the novel had written itself” without his knowing. By then, 50 posters had been produced. The Novel That Writes Itself is thus given substance to by Colby Posters through which he shows not only how the characters of his autobiography evolve but also an array of his projects.
The pages of The Novel That Writes Itself, a work whose essentially romanesque nature requires the shape of a book, break away one by one to be put on the walls of galleries or museums. This novel by Allen Ruppersberg takes, in its provisional form, the shape of a renewed installation, enriched with each new presentation. In the footsteps of El Lissitzky who declined the traditional structure of a book by turning its pages into posters, Allen Rupersberg takes a similar approach.
The Novel That Writes Itself finishes to write itself in 2013 with the closing of the Colby Company. Time has come, perhaps, to bring back the classic format of a novel. Allen Ruppersberg, however, has chosen to compensate the constraint of a book by giving it the independence of a poster. The binder holds together a number of separate pages who can keep their original poster-like nature.
Exhibition from September 12 to October 4, 2014, mfc-michèle didier, Paris.
Created entirely from found images, ALBUM collects the first ten issues of a zine by the same name begun by artists Eline Mugaas and Elise Storsveen in 2008. Comprised of full page photographic illustrations, advertisements, and other ubiquitous media images culled from etiquette manuals, cookbooks, travel magazines, craft books, fashion magazines, and sexual manuals, ALBUM reflects the popular imagery found in Scandinavian households from the 1960s through the 1980s.
The chosen imagery is then arranged across spreads, creating a sophisticated and humorous reading organized by a series of heavy themes such as the lonely man, femininity, architecture, family, outer space, and nature. While seemingly whimsical, ALBUM provides a sophisticated meta-narrative on the human body, sexuality, and the social lives of images that places the reader in an uncanny arena that showcases how our media likely reads us.
Launch, September 27, 8pm, with Eline Mugaas and Elise Storsveen, during NY Art Book Fair.
September 26–28, 2014, Printed Matter presents the ninth annual NY Art Book Fair, at MoMA PS1, New York. Free and open to the public, the NY Art Book Fair is the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. Last year, the fair featured nearly 300 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-six countries. NYABF14 is also full of programming and special events.
V. Vale & William S. Burroughs
V. Vale is an editor, writer-interviewer, historian, photographer and pianist. As publisher-editor of the 1977-79 zine SEARCH & DESTROY, V. Vale helped bring international attention to a Punk scene as prophetic as more publicized ones elsewhere. The publication was launched with $100 each from Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and published at City Lights Bookstore, where Vale worked at the time. For Vale, Punk provided a launching pad for a host of cultural-anthropological explorations, including Industrial music, the writings of J.G. Ballard and William S. Burroughs, feminism, pranksterism, studies of The Body, plus “Incredibly Strange” filmmaking and music, which he has chronicled with the RE/SEARCH series of publications that he founded in 1980.
Now lauded as an invaluable document of early punk and a graphic design rule-breaker (“We’d do a layout meeting: ‘Here’s the text. Here are the pictures. Your job is to make this interview as rad as you can’”), Search and Destroy also became a way for Vale to make critical connections between the work and thoughts generated by punk groups and those formulated by artists in other media, as interviews with Vale’s mentors Ballard and Burroughs made their way into the zine.
The RE/Search series had become the equivalent of an ever-unfolding countercultural bible: essential reading not only for Punks — all the books, Vale swears, are informed by that Revolution — but artists, musicians, cultural fire-starters, and trouble-makers of every nonconformist stripe. In turn, Vale built a bridge with his paperbacks between the cultural movers around him and the world of books that has succored him. “I learned long ago that reading is not a passive process,” says Vale. “I like to mark up my books. My books are heavily interacted with. I look at books not as books, but as conversations.”
From September 6 to 13, V. Vale will be doing a mini-lecture/workshop tour in Belgium and Holland. September 6, at Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp, Vale will unearth a rare complete set of Search & Destroy—the 11-issue punk zine about underground literary and music culture Vale produced from 1977 to 1979. Then, at 8pm, Vale will talk about how seed money from Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg led to Search & Destroy, how that led to RE/Search Magazine, and how all of it led to RE/Search Publications. More about the tour here.
What exactly is a book? The Thing The Book asks that question of more than 30 creative visionaries. Each traditional element of a book – from endpapers to ribbon bookmarks to page numbers – has been assigned to a different artist or writer to use as his or her own personal exhibition space. Miranda July’s naughty errata slip, Jonathan Lethem’s Foster Wallace-esque footnotes, Ed Ruscha’s medieval bookplate, not to mention essays, fiction, photo collections, artworks, centerfolds, a reading group guide – there’s something for everyone.
Featuring Gwen Allen, Tauba Auerbach, John Baldessari, Martin Creed, Mark Dion, Anthony Discenza, Kota Ezawa, Harrell Fletcher, Ryan Gander, Sam Green, Jonn Herschend & Will Rogan, Matthew Higgs, Andrew Hultkrans, Chris Johanson, Miranda July, Starlee Kine, Andrew Leland, Jonathan Lethem, MacFadden & Thorpe, Mike Mills, Rick Moody, Dave Muller, Laurel Nakadate, Tucker Nichols, Trevor Paglen, Lucy Pullen, Ed Ruscha, Leslie Shows, David Shrigley, Molly Springfield, Sara VanDerBeek, Anne Walsh, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Wentworth.
The exhibition Man Ray, Picabia et la revue Littérature (1922-1924) – Centre Pompidou, Paris, until September 8 – sheds light on a crucial period in the history of modern art, between the end of the Dadaist movement and the advent of Surrealism, and is based on the twenty-six covers designed by Francis Picabia for the review Littérature in the early Twenties. Until very recently, only their printed version was known. In 2008, Francis Picabia’s original drawings, fifteen of which has never been exhibited, were revealed. This exhibition also highlights the contribution of Man Ray. The American photographer had moved to Paris in 1921, and Littérature was where he first disclosed images that have become icons of photographic modernity, like Le Violon d’Ingres and Marcel Duchamp’s L’Élevage de poussière. The inside pages of Littérature also contained works by Picasso, Max Ernst and Robert Desnos.
In 1922, André Breton remained the only one in charge of the review, after the departure of Louis Aragon and then Philippe Soupault, with whom he had founded it in 1919. To mark the review’s change of direction, Breton decided to replace the cover image created by Man Ray with drawings – different each time – by Francis Picabia, to whom he gave carte blanche for each issue. Their highly linear graphic style was Picabia’s ironic response to the vogue of the “return to Ingres” advocated by the former Cubists, whom he regularly mocked. Picabia also drew on religious imagery, erotic iconography, and the iconography of games of chance. These ink drawings also reveal Picabia as an animal artist, as horses, baboons, tigers, dogs and deer, probably inspired by books for laymen, rub shoulders with various figures from the world of the circus or the musical. Several drawings seem to be of the authors of the review itself, to which Picabia made a regular literary contribution. The artist made play with pronounced contrasts of black and white, reminiscent of his “Ripolin” paintings of the same period, like the Dresseur d’animaux, now in the Centre Pompidou, which has similar iconography.
In its piece called Digital Video Effect: “Spills”, Seth Price borrowed some home video footage shot by Joan Jonas around 1971, featuring Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt and Jonas herself, talking with dealer Joe Hellman.
Price subjected the archival material to an invented digital video effect that made the footage appear to alternately spill across the black video screen and then itself be entirely obscured by oozing blackness. Displayed on a new TV/DVD player still in its own cardboard packaging, the work was like an object you could trip over, or look down on. It is a piece about the archive and the artwork, about concealment and visibility, as well as the liquidity of both digital culture and historical material.
Peep-Hole Sheet is a quarterly of writings by artists. Each issue is dedicated solely to one artist, who is invited to contribute with an unpublished text whose content is completely free in terms both of subject and format. The texts are published in their original language, with accompanying translations in English. Peep-Hole Sheet is meant for those who believe artists are catalysts for ideas all around us, and who want to read their words without any filter. Over time it aspires to build up an anthology of writings that might open new perspectives for interpreting and understanding our times.
Peep-Hole Sheet Issue #21, Ok, Just Send Me the Bill, by Seth Price, is a “fictionalized adaptation” taken from the audio of Price’s work. It was written in the same year, and laid it out so as to resemble an old book, with stills from the video as illustrations. Price altered the conversation, framing it within a kind of minimalist American style of fiction writing, together with oddball excurses and ‘glitches.’ Published here in its original format, the piece is a reflection on artworks and market and the passing of time that creates a temporal short-circuit, very much speaking to our moment, and questioning the role of the artist at play.
In the mid 1960s, the city of Chicago was an incubator for an iconoclastic group of young artists. Collectively known as the Imagists, they showed in successive waves of exhibitions with monikers that might have been psychedelic rock bands of the era – Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some, False Image, Marriage Chicago Style. Kissing cousins to the contemporaneous international phenomenon of Pop Art, Chicago Imagism took its own weird, wondrous, in-your-face tack. Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, comical, and absurd, it celebrated a very different version of ‘popular’ from the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.
Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists is the first film to tell their wild, woolly, utterly irreverent story. Screening July 13, 2014, 8pm, at 356 Mission in Los Angeles.
Issue #30 of GRAPHIC, Publishers, features interviews with ten publishing companies, along with information about their books, which delves into the possibilities the book medium holds in the contemporary context. The ten companies introduced aren’t necessarily the leaders of their field. But each has its own identity, its own unique way of reflecting the field’s diversity.
With this issue, a number of possibilities for discussion. First, there is the overall context of the today’s art publishing market. Their community can’t be equated with the mainstream of art publishing, but they do at least have a pioneering role in art and design practice that cannot be ignored. That’s what allows the transdisciplinary bearings they forge to serve as a benchmark for understanding the contemporary art and design scene. Second, there’s the question of just what new possibilities can be found in the book medium at a time when the media technology environment surrounding it is undergoing profound changes. These companies are real-life examples showing new attitudes and patterns of practice in the area of art publishing. Their publication lists point to the direction in which art publishing is going in the e-book age. Finally, there’s the potential for publishing as a model for expanding on legacies from the past. What is the link between these companies’ activities today and the artist-led book production movement of the 1960s? Why do some publishers still view this kind of publishing as a viable model?
The starting point of Laurence Aëgerter’s facsimile Cathédrales, is the 1949 catalogue Cathedrals and churches of France, published by the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Tourism. The artist placed the book by the window in her studio and allowed the incidence of natural light to impact a reproduction of the façade of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Bourges. She photographed the book every minute during two hours, obtaining 120 photographs of light variations upon this unique image. The play of shadow and light of the Gothic architecture in the orignal photograph, is superimposed by a new shadow that slowly glide on the cathedral and, imperceptibly but irreparably, swallows it up. Aëgerter’s photographs contain thus three stratified layers of times : the 12th century, 1949 and 2012. Cathédrales presents a photographic sequence and as we turn the pages, we are aware of the temporal dimension of this visual exploration, a metaphor of transcience.
The photobook is a thriving medium for encountering a group of images, and the preferred presentation of many photographers. This form of publishing responds to the basic structure of photographic production, and is growing despite digital distribution of images.
The Sandbox: At Play with the Photobook, an installation by Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar, both artists and owners of Spaces Corners, transforms the museum into a playful hybrid space for encounters with the photobook: part reading room, part bookshop, part library, part event space. Encounter a rotating selection of photobooks and intimate events emphasizing contemporary trends that give the medium its character.
On view at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, until July 28, 2014.
Ray Johnson (1927-1995) was a seminal Pop Art figure in the 1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art. His preferred medium was collage, that quintessentially twentieth-century art form that reflects the increased (as the century wore on) collision of disparate visual and verbal information that bombards modern man. Integrating texts and images drawn from a multiplicity of sources — from mass media to telephone conversations — Johnson’s innovativeness spread beyond the confines of the purely visual.
The art of Ray Johnson was rooted in his constant practice of correspondence. He dispersed a copious amount of collages and other printed matter through the mail to friends and colleagues. The Museum of Modern Art Library received materials in the mail from Ray Johnson from the 1950s until his death in 1995.
The exhibition Ray Johnson Designs – July 2 to September 29, 2014, MoMA, New York – focuses on Johnson’s early printed materials, especially his promotional flyers for his work as a graphic designer and illustrator. These flyers were some of the first materials that the MoMA Library received from Johnson and they prefigure the graphic motifs and word play that remained central to his later art work. Publications that included Johnson’s design work from this period, including book jacket designs for publishers such as New Directions, The Jargon Society, and City Lights, are also featured.
Is it possible to understand graphic design as a practice beyond an object-centric approach, as a practice beyond the conception and production of well-designed and printed artefacts? Which other potentials to create a public should be considered integral to design as an activity?
The Visual Event explores the question of how such an extended practice could be thought, which graphic, spatial and temporal forms such a situational practice could take, and tests the idea of the “visual event” from various perspectives of visual culture. The project compiles numerous contributions by artists, academics, designers, architects, and students of the System-Design Class at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig.
Flaneur presents one street per issue. The magazine embraces the street’s complexity, its layers and fragmented nature with a literary approach. It creates a meaningful correlation between places, stories, people and objects that aren’t necessarily related. The magazine is aware of its subjectivity. It wants to say: “This could be Georg-Schwarz-Straße”.
Flaneur issue 3, Rue Bernard, Montreal, will be launched June 27, from 6pm, in Berlin, and July 4, from 6pm, in Montreal.
During its fifty-four issue run, spanning nearly three decades, ARK was an influential presence in British cultural life. A magazine created by students at the Royal College of Art in London, ARK attracted international attention for its often bold and fast-changing design as well as the extraordinary cast of writers and artists who contributed to its pages, including Ralph Rumney, Lucio Fontana, Alison and Peter Smithson, Toni del Renzio and Reyner Banham, as well as college students and staff.
ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978 is an anthology the magazine ARK. It includes original material from the magazine, selected and introduced by students on the Critical Writing in Art and Design MA programme at the RCA today. Also featured, in full colour, are all the covers of ARK and an index of the magazine’s contents. This new publication will offer a vivid overview of changing attitudes and approaches to art and design in Britain in an age of considerable flux.
Symposium & Book launch, June 25, Royal College of Art, London.
Invented by the English scientist Sir John Herschel in 1842 as a means for blueprinting, the cyanotype process is a simple and inexpensive printing method characterised chiefly by its cyan-blue hue. It was first popularised as a photographic printing technique in 1843 by Anna Atkins, a botanist who employed the practice to illustrate her collected herbarium specimens. Attributable to its affordability and amateur procedure, the cyanotype subsequently became a prevalent photographic process into the turn of the century.
Cyanotypes is an innovative exhibition – June 10 to 28, Roman Road, Brussels; June 14 to 26, MAD Agency, Paris – by the French multimedia artist Thomas Mailaender whose appropriation of this traditional technique serves not to comment, nor to foster a significant yet outmoded genre in the history of photography. Rather his cyanotypes challenge and satirise the clichéd legitimacy and parameters of today’s art. Imbued with humorous and bold content, Mailaender’s cyanotypes manifest images taken from the artist’s Fun Archive, a personal collection of absurd and anonymous pictures drawn from the Internet.
To mark the launch of Please Come to the Show, edited by Museum of Modern Art Bibliographer David Senior, Occasional Papers invites Berlin-based Bar Vulkan – June 10, from 6:45 pm, at Institute of Contemporary Arts in London – to host an evening devoted to celebrating the exhibition invitation card, a key yet often overlooked element of exhibition-making.
David Senior selected a wide range of exhibition-related ephemera – invitations, flyers and posters from the 1960s to the present (overview on pleasecometotheshow.tumblr.com ) – and presents them here as an historically overlooked but integral aspect of exhibitions. Often the first point of contact between the audience and artist, such items form part of an essential lexicon for graphic designers, curators, art historians and anyone interested in the event-based nature of showing art.
Filled with full-colour reproductions of numerous examples from the MoMA collection, the book includes new essays by Gustavo Grandal Montero, Will Holder, Antony Hudek, Angie Keefer, Clive Phillpot, David Senior and Suzanne Stanton.
“There’s more to life than books, but not much more”, says the song, with an unmistakable, ambiguously seductive, voice. Åbäke, Corinn Gerber, Laure Giletti, Jp King, Chris Lee, Anouk Pennel, Patricia No, and Benjamin Thorel, all agree with this bold statement. As artists, writers, publishers, printers, curators, graphic designers, researchers and many combinations of these disciplines, they are “making books”: engaging in the production, invention and circulation, in the selling and buying, writing and reading of paperbacks, catalogues, journals, ’zines, websites and text documents. Questioning the scope and value of this activity is what’s at the core of this book, that presents itself as a subjective lexicon, proposing keywords for contemporary publishers and book freaks.
A book about – What’s more to life than books, co-published by Art Metropole, Paraguay Press and Publication Studio, is the result of a seminar that was called There’s more to life than books, but not much more.
Multi-City-Launch June 14, 2014, at Publication Studio, 11am, in Portland; at Art Metropole, 2pm, in Toronto; at Studio Feed, 2pm, in Montreal; at castillo/corrales, 8pm, in Paris.
Ixiptla is a new biannual journal, initiated by the artist Mariana Castillo Deball, about trajectories of Anthropology.
The Nahua concept of ixiptla derives from the particle xip, meaning “skin”, coverage or shell. A natural outer layer of tissue that covers the body of a person or animal, the skin can be separated from the body to produce garments, containers for holding liquids or parchment as a writing surface.
Originally a Nahua word, ixiptla has been understood as image, delegate, character, and representative. Ixiptla could be a container, but also could be the actualization of power infused into an object or person. In Nahua culture, it took the form of a statue, a vision, or a victim who turned into a god destined to be sacrificed. Without having to visually appear the same, multiple ixiptlas of the same god could exist simultaneously. The distinction between essence and material, and between original and copy vanishes.
This edition of Ixiptla is focused on the trajectory of objects collected and produced by archeologists – plaster molds, facsimiles, drawings, photographs, and scale models -, in an attempt to capture and replicate material evidences left by time; these objects emerge from a specific moment in time, producing a doppelgänger of the original milieu, which then takes its own course. For this first issue, a group of anthropologists, archaeologists, artists, and writers have been invited to reflect on the role of the model, the copy, and reproduction in their areas of research and practice.
“Art institutions are inevitably institutional, dependent on architecture and reliant on compromise. Yet this ‘institutionality,’ which we know to regard with a critical eye, can also be an asset, offering both a methodological and material grounding, community, and resources. Because museums cannot continuously rebuild and restructure themselves when confronting this dialectic with regard to both programming and exhibition making, the question becomes how to, at least temporarily, adopt another model or logic, while also resisting rehearsed tactics or resorting to spectacle. Excursus is one response.”
Excursus I – IV documents a two-year, four-part exhibition and program series at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Curated by Alex Klein and designed by Mark Owens, the 128 page catalogue operates at the intersection of art, publishing, the archive, and the social, and features contributions from Reference Library, East of Borneo, Ooga Booga, and Primary Information.
Purchase the catalogue at Draw Down.