I am in two new artists' book shows that opened a few days apart, one in New York City, the other in Berkeley, CA. The UC Berkeley show, entitled The Book as Place: Visions of the Built Environment, was curated by Julie Chen. It opened in the Environmental Design Library, 210 Wurster Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus and runs until May 17th. The pictures that I have seen of the show make it look like a very exciting one and I'm sorry to miss it. If I had gone to the CODEX Book Fair this year I would have had a chance.
Here are two photos of the installation, both photographs are courtesy of Julie Chen, Curator.
This year I decided not to go to CODEX, the biannual artists' book show in Richmond, CA, organized by Peter Koch. I had been to every previous one except the first one. My main reason to go is for social reasons: it's a great way to visit with good friends like Julie Chen, who I stay with, Sandra Krupa who also stays with Julie, and Toni Nelson, Julie's good friend from Salt Lake City. And all of us, along with Clif Meador and Barb Tetenbaum, always go to have at least one meal at Chez Panisse, always a big treat. Seeing the dozens of other friends who have tables at CODEX, or are attending, is also fun. Those include John Demeritt, Jack Ginsberg, Robbin Silverberg, Harry Reese, Rebecca Chamlee, Leonard Seastone, Alisa Golden, Bill and Vicky Stewart, and many, many others, depending on if they have a table or are attending that particular year.
CODEX itself has very high quality work and is always curated by Peter Koch. Although I really preferred the original hall where it was held, on the Berkeley Campus, the new location, the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, is an old World War II tank factory, and is pretty great It is situated right on the water and the views out the windows are spectacular. But it is much harder to get to from anywhere else in the Bay area and has serious sun and lighting problems.
Over the years I have come to realize that only about ten or twelve of the tables at the CODEX Book Fair are of any real interest to me. There is some beautiful letterpress work there, but in the end, the New York Art Book Fair (or the LA Book Fair) is of more interest to me. Although I am definitely interested in artists' books that are not photographic, that genre is one of my primary interests, and there are usually only a handful of vendor tables that feature any photographic artists' books at CODEX. And the CODEX Book Symposium that is mounted concurrently (for an additional $300 fee) is almost never of interest to me. They are usually painfully boring. I am sure I will go to CODEX again though, most likely to the next one in 2021. It is so much fun to spend time with good friends that are part of the artists' book tribe.
The other show that I am in is called Politics of Place, curated by Alexander Campos and Monica Oppen, at the Center for Book Arts in New York City. It is open from January 18th to March 30th, 2019. A description of the show is on their website: "From the mechanisms of colonialism, to intractable wars, displacement has become a catalyst to a contemporary discourse surrounding belonging, homeland and nationhood. The Politics of Place highlights artist books, mainly from Australia and North America, both new world territories that share parallel histories, to explore the longstanding issues centered in 'indigeneity', enslavement, conflict-caused immigration. These issues reflect the undercurrent of political motives and decisions often de-centering and ignoring the voices of those displaced."