There is an important one-day symposium coming up soon in San Francisco, and if you are anywhere in the Bay Area or nearby, I urge you to attend. Steve Woodall, of the Reva and David Logan Foundation, has put together the symposium called "Futures of the Book: How Artists Redefine Print Media." It takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, October 22nd at The Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, San Francisco.
Of special interest to me are Alistair Johnston, longtime proprietor of Poltroon Press, Daniel Mellis of the University of Illinois, Chicago, Clifton Meador, Appalachian State University, and Emily McVarish of California College of the Arts.
Alistair Johnston is a longtime publisher, and expert on all things letterpress, including iron hand presses and other proofing printing presses, and a well-known expert on typography. Alistair is also an erudite scholar of what many would call 'World Music', and most especially African music. I am curious how he will address Futures of the Book, the topic of the symposium theme.
This is the Poltroon Press' Stanhope press as shown on the Poltroon Press website.
I am very interested in the project that Daniel Mellis has been working on for three or more years, along with the Russian translator and scholar, Eugene Ostashevsky. This project involves the facsimile version of perhaps one of the most famous artists' books of all time, Vasily Kamensky with Vladimir and David Burliuk's Tango With Cows from 1914. The original Cyrillic Russian-language text has been replaced by English-language Roman type so all of the text can now be read by Anglophones. A similar attempt at translated facsimile was attempted by MIT Press with Vladimir Mayakovsky and El Lissitzky's For the Voice, in 2000, with very mixed results. The production values of that small volume, though now worth a great deal of money, were pretty poor. Mellis has gone the other route and taken years working out all the details, to the point of hand-screening new facsimile wallpaper like that used in the original version of Tango with Cows. The image below is courtesy Daniel Mellis.
Finally, Clifton Meador and Emily McVarish will have a conversation with each other about two of each of their newest books. This should be a real treat. The books that they will interview each other about will be Emily's Lessons of Darkness (published by Granary Books in 2016) and Clif's book Pankisi Prayer Rug (published by Demerritt/Pauwels Editions in 2015 with the deluxe edition in 2016). McVarish and Meador are both at the peak of their games and among the best artists working in the artists' book medium today. What really sets them apart from almost everyone else is a combination of excellent writing, sophisticated and innovative design, and (the trifecta) fascinating conceptual content. Add to all of that an extremely high level of production craft and you have among the very best artists' books published anywhere in the world. I wish I could be there to hear what I am sure will be their incisive, witty and thought-provoking discussion.
With more advanced notice I might have been able to make this symposium, but like many of these events, the PR material just came out this week, which is a shame for those of us 500 miles away. I am hoping that the lectures and discussions will be recorded and disseminated.