Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2020 title: DELIRIUM

Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2020 title: DELIRIUM
Two-page spread from DELIRIUM

Monday, April 22, 2019

The LAABF 2019

The week before last I attended the Los Angeles Art Book Fair for the first time. It has been operated by Printed Matter Inc. in NYC since 2013 but was not held last year due to the untimely death of the primary fair organizer, Shannon Michael Cane.

I had read that the fair had grown a great deal since it's beginnings and was starting to rival the New York MoMA-PS1 fair in terms of the number of vendors and attendance. Max Schumann, the Director of Printed Matter told me that this year's fair in LA had the greatest number of vendor table of any fair so far, over 390.

On the backside of the building was a very large mural by Barbara Kruger that had just been installed recently.

Here are some images from the book fair itself:

It turned out to be a really fun four-day trip. It’s so nice to have a cheap hour-and-a-half direct flight rather than the usual hassle of traveling to NYC. The main expense was the hotel for three nights and the very good meals that we had, not-to-mention the large number of books that we got, but worth it. We stayed at a Japanese chain hotel in Little Tokyo called Miyako Hotel, and we were among the very few non-Japanese tourists staying there. The best thing was that the hotel was literally one short block away from the Geffen Contemporary at MoCA where the fair was held. It was so nice to be able to walk back in less than five minutes and dump book loot in our hotel room. 

We had some truly amazing meals while there. LA is clearly a foodie town. Some of the restaurants we went to were: Sushi Enya (supposedly best sushi in Little Tokyo), a couple of really great Ramen places, Daikokuya and Mr Ramen, weird Japanese breakfast stuff at Café Dulce, and some really great lunch food at the food trucks outside the book fair including the best shrimp and fish tacos I have ever had. Finally, around the Hauser & Wirth complex in the Arts Warehouse district, we ate at an expensive but fantastic restaurant called Manuela,  and a terrific German wurst and beer place called Wurstküche Restaurant.

It was nice seeing Skuta (below), who was at the LAABF making sure that the Artbook/Steidl bookshop area at the fair was running smoothly. When we were at the Hauser + Wirth complex we were impressed with the Artbook Bookshop there. It was only a short ten-minute walk from the Geffen Contemporary and Little Tokyo. He also told us to be sure to stop by an ice cream shop right next to Hauser + Wirth building. It is called Salt and Straw, and he claimed it was the best ice cream in the US. Of course we had to try it, and it was extremely delicious.

The book fair itself is in a much nicer locale than the NYABF and MoMA-PS1: really large rooms with super warehouse style high ceilings. Everything seemed so much less hot and claustrophobic, with none of the little warren-like rooms of PS1. It was so much easier to navigate and find ones’ way back to areas or specific tables. In short a much much nicer experience. However, most of the book vendors and publishers that I talked to said that they sold far better in NYC than LA. Some people made the mistake of getting a table in the equivalent of the PS1 ‘Zine area of the fair where tables were $160. They don’t call it the ‘Zine area in LA, but it was the same sort of vendors on the whole, though not quite as flea-market-y as at PS1. One of the things that I noticed there was that EVERY table in that section of the book fair was full of Rizo-printed crap. The Rizo phenomenon has clearly peaked. I would say that 80% of it was pretty bad. Of course, I shouldn't generalize, there are some phenomenal Rizo book pieces out there like those done by Tricia Tracy, Bridget Elmer, Emily Larned, Clif Meador and some others, but a great deal of it is pretty bad. [ Full disclosure, I am not a huge 'zine fan. ]

Another printing effect which has reached cliché level, I am afraid: metallic or white ink on black paper. I saw dozens of examples. I think that Clif Meador started something with the Tbilisi hotel piece that he did as an enclosure in the CAA Journal years ago. The Richard Mosse books probably help too. Anyway, there are lots and lots of them. Some were done on the HP Indigo 5000 which allows white ink, but most of the ones that I saw were metallic silver ink printed by offset.

Some of the many other people that we ran into were these: I talked for a long time to Paul Zelevansky, who is back living in NYC. I had never seen 24 Pictures About Pictures.  Also, Aaron Cohick had a table in that 'zine area. It was great seeing Kate Albers, our former colleague at the University of Arizona, who is now teaching at Whittier College in LA. Also Tricia Tracey and on the last day, right before we left, we ran into Inge Bruggeman, which was a very nice surprise since we thought we were going to miss her since she was going to be there only on Sunday, the last day of the fair.

The crowds were large but not sure if they were the same as last year. Supposedly in 2017, they had 35,000 people in LA, very similar to NY, but it seemed like far fewer. I think that that might be due to the much larger spaces that the book fair occupied. Many vendors were the same as in NYC. It was nice to be there Friday morning, before the general public, the hours set aside for buyers and collectors only, just like the NYABF.

The books we bought were a combination of design and photo/artists' books. We finally got a few smaller books from AnticHam since I always feel bad that I can’t afford their screen-printed books.

This is the full haul, minus a few books that we ended up ordering online since we couldn't carry them back on the airplane back to Tucson.

There are also a couple of books that I really like from Gato Negro in Mexico City. The Aperture book in the second photo, Feast for the Eyes, about food in photography, sounds like a crappy book, but it’s actually really great. A wonderful read with all sorts of amazing food photos from the 19th century through today. It’s a great read.