Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2018 title: TROPHY

Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2018 title: TROPHY
Two-page spread (pp.4+5) from TROPHY by Philip Zimmermann

Monday, November 21, 2016

West/Southwest Regional SPE Conference in Tucson, Arizona

It's been a couple of weeks since the 2016 West and Southwest co-hosted Regional SPE Conference was held here in Tucson. Sponsored by the University of Arizona, Pima County Community College, the UA School of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the Etherton Gallery, and SUVA, the Southwest University of Visual Arts. Although it was technically just November 4, 5 and 6th, it  extended beyond those dates, since Mishka Henner, the keynote speaker, arrived the weekend before the conference to do research at the CCP and interact with grad students. Alejandro Cartagena, who flew in from Monterrey, MX gave a terrific VASE (Visiting Artist) Lecture at the CCP the night before the start of the conference, followed by a speaker's reception dinner.

Mishka Henner

This conference was a long time in the making. We started the planning about a year and a half before the event. We had settled on the theme of photobooks a year before, but that was slightly expanded to Hunting + Gathering: The Photobook and Image Archives. This made some sense because of the fact that Mishka Henner was the keynote, and Kate Palmer Albers was another main speaker and that is one of the areas encompassed by her research. The panel, which I put together, was called Crosscurrents in Photobook Publishing and took place on Saturday afternoon. The panel was on the subject of different types of photobook publishing, and was moderated by Mary Virginia Swanson.

After Mishka's talk, the University of Arizona professor and photo historian, Kate Albers, had an hour long conversation on stage with Mishka. These things are not always very enlightening, but this was quite wonderful and worthwhile. Here they are on stage, in dialogue:

Before the keynote at Pima Community College, a couple of long-time educators were honored for their careers, Sheila Pirkle from the Western Chapter, and Bill Jenkins, from the Southwestern Chapter. There were a number of other speakers the next morning, including a juried selection of graduate students showing their work. They were from a number of different graduate programs in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

Our photobook panel went on at 1:00 pm and continued through until 2:30; a very rushed hour and a half. The moderator was the extremely accomplished Mary Virginia Swanson, known by everyone as Swanee. She herself did a presentation, then introduced each panelist. (As you may know she is the author of a well-known book on photobook publishing.)

M.V. Swanson; photo by Stefan Wachs.

The panelists were Alejandro Cartagena, a photographer and maker of self-published photobooks from Monterrey, Mexico and most famous for his book Carpoolers.

Alejandro Cartagena

The next of four panelists was Mike Slack of Ice Plant, a photobook publisher in Los Angeles, and perhaps best known for his book OK OK OK.

Mike Slack

The third panelist was Deirdre Visser of CHROMA in the San Francisco Bay Area, a non-profit publisher of books on and made by minority and disenfranchised populations.

Deirdre Visser  

I was the last photobook publisher panelist and described some of the books that I produce which are on the far left of the photobook field and are more photo-based artists' books than just photobooks. I also mentioned that my books are far down on the photography book to photobookwork continuum. I discussed briefly my continuum chart, which I also sold after the talks.

Sadly there was not enough time, and the last two or three presentations had to be rushed through. We never had the sit-down group panel conversation. That might have been interesting and useful to some in the audience. Clearly, this will have to be done again sometime soon.

Terry Etherton of Tucson's Etherton Gallery hosted a well-attended reception at his gallery on Saturday night with a mini-display of some of Alejandro's books and pictures.

The next day, in addition to some open-studios for the MFA grads, we had a book showing and open house in the Book Art and Letterpress Lab, with bagels, cream cheese, coffee, and orange juice. Swanee put out a number of recently published photobooks that were unusual and exciting in content. and format. 

The conference was extremely successful, by far the best regional conference that I have ever attended. I think it is also the first where the keynote was flown in from Europe, and where one of the panelists was from Mexico. Usually, those sort of art stars only appear at national conferences.