It's now been a couple of weeks since I got back from New York and the 11th version of the NYABF and I feel that I have at least partially digested the experience. This year was as crazy as ever with 39,000 attendees. Thank god for the special "industry" hours (10:00 am to 1:00pm on Friday morning) for collectors, curators, the critics and press, and Special Collections librarians. That is the only time that it is possible to move around and actually have civil conversations with the artists and publishers. Almost all of the 30 or so books that I bought were purchased in that time slot.
Clif Meador and I again decided not to get a table together, and I am glad that we did not. In the end, Clif was not able to come because of a conflict due to his Chair of the Art Department job at Appalachian State University, and I am so glad that I did not have to sit at our table for three and a half long days.
This year everyone who went to the preview night ($10) on Thursday evening got a special edition plastic fan, that as an art object was somewhat underwhelming, but at least was practical in the usual sweltering heat of some of the exhibition rooms.
There was also the usual semi-baffling "project" rooms, which people look down on, but nobody quite understands what is going on or what the point is. This is (I think) the Gogosian Gallery project room in the basement, which everyone would stare down into the project space from the first-floor balcony, then move along. I have no idea what they were doing or what they were up to, and probably should have spent some time going down and investigating. Strangely, this year on the third floor of MoMA-PS1 was a huge and very comprehensive retrospective of the work of Vito Acconci. I wandered up there twice during the three days I was at the fair and was surprised how empty it was. I guess this was really two very different audiences. A lot of the old famous Acconci pieces from the late sixties and seventies were there. Some seemed kind of dated, others still had the slightly squeamish power that I recall from when Vito Acconci came to Cornell as a visiting artist when I was an undergrad. But it was odd having ol' Vito doing his compulsive whispered ranting behind a gallery wall, with the huge crowds of hipster youth one floor below rooting through piles of books.
Every year the selection of vendors/artists/publishers selling and showing books changes. Missing this year were old favorites like Archive of Modern Conflict from London, Lubeck from Leipzig, Germany and Brad Freeman representing JAB and the Center for Book and Paper in Chicago which seems to be undergoing some sort of transformation. Scott McCarney and Skuta Helgason were there of course but they did not have their own vendor's table. In fact, Scott did a really nice display for Skuta's store ARTBOOK@MoMA-PS1 on his Bananaco Project. Here is Scott in front of the window display, being photographed by Champe Smith. Some of the usual collectors were not there either: Jack Ginsburg, from South Africa, perhaps the largest collector of artists' books in the world did not come this year for the first time in many years.
Barbara Moore from Fluxus, Bound+Unbound and Something Else Press fame. Also there was Heidi Nielsen, who I got to talk to for a little while. I was really happy to hear that she is teaching my old Experimental Book class at SUNY Purchase. I am sure that it's an amazing class, re-thought and re-tooled with strong conceptual underpinnings. It would be great to see the work that comes out of that class.
Mary Lum, artist and Bennington College professor, who just finished a very cool new book that was on sale at Printed Matter. To her right is Scott McCarney, erstwhile book artist and paper sculptor, shown earlier in front of his installation. To her left is Doro Boehm, Head Special Collections Librarian of the Joan Flasch Artists Book Collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Boekie-Woekie in Amsterdam, another of our dear friends who make the regular trip from Europe each year for the NYABF. I also ran into Alejandro Cartagena several times. I presented with him this past summer at the VSW Photo-Bookwork Symposium organized by Tate Shaw in Rochester. Alejandro will be speaking here in Tucson in November, and he was buying almost as many books as I was. He also had books for sale at the SkinnerBoox table. I thought it was interesting that there was a publisher called SkinnerBoox since the keynote speaker at the conference, Martha Wilson is the only person that I have ever met who was brought up as a baby in a Skinner Box. It was also nice to see old friends like Leonard Seastone, Bill Deere and Warren Lehrer, all old colleagues and friends from SUNY Purchase. It was great to photograph Elisabeth Tonnard and Joachim Schmid, a ritual that we have established over the past four or more years. It's always nice to see their friendly faces and browse all the new artists' books that they bring each year.
Max Schumann, the Director of Printed Matter, took around a large group of curators and ARLIS librarians on a tour of the NYABF.
One of the places that he stopped at was the table shared by Rorhof, a fabulous new publisher from northern Italy, and Danilo Montanari Editore, also from Italy. They were two of the newcomers to the NYABF and they were showing some amazing new work. I bought a number of really interesting new artists books from them, especially from Rorhof. This was the first year that Rorhof, from Bolzano Italy, has shown at the NYABF. They are a publisher to watch and I was sorry that we had not included them in the show that Clif Meador and I co-curated called The Authority of the Book. Rorhof is the publisher of Nicoló Degiorgis' Hidden Islam (which won all sorts of prizes last year in photobook competitions) and the already sold-out
Sharmini Pereira, who was there talking about each of the titles. They had to have one "best value award" with their books heavily subsidized by the British Arts Council. Every book, even ones with a huge number of pages and very high production values was $20. Winfried Heininger. I was happy to purchase several of his books. He is one many publishers to tell me that he was going to be at the LA Book Fair at the end of February at the Geffen Center/MOCA.
traffic, and the tables were obviously made right before the event, but for the first year of an event it seemed pretty successful. It remains to be seen if they will persevere and present for more years and grow through experience.
joined us at the book fair. I hope that the IABF does thrive since it can be an interesting counterpoint to the much more established NYABF.
It is still probably the most important distributor for artists publications in the world. The fair is a major fund-raising event for PM and so we all must continue to support it.