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Whether you’re interested in limited edition screenprints, Xerox zines, or full color photo books, there is something for everyone at Blonde Art Books’s Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair this weekend. Held at Signal, the fair is intimate, filling one large room with just over two dozen participants. But don’t let the small space fool you — the offerings cover the full spectrum of independent publishing and printing. To guide you through the tables, here are a few of my favorite things spotted (and, in some cases, purchased) during Friday night’s opening.
For comedy lovers: Wolfe-Arama Jokes from Ira (Ratstar Press, 2014, $10)
This volume collects all the jokes that sexagenarian Ira has sent to the publisher over the years. Totaling over 300 pages, this book is filled with gems like, “why did the woman who worked in the dressing room of the department store lose her temper? she had a fit!” and “they stole a supply of rulers from a classroom and they had to take desperate measures!” all printed with no capitalization, presumably maintaining the format of the original emails.
Elad Lassry is best known for his elegantly staged photographs that transform everyday objects ranging from nail polish to vegetables into well-crafted investigations of photography’s formal properties. In this artist book, Lassry focuses his lens on onions, coupling portraits of onions and other glassy circular items with an essay by artist Angie Keefer about onions and the people they bring to mind. Despite its title, On Onions is a study of things that make us cry — a physical action that is loaded with emotion.
Cartoonist Matthew Thurber’s table featured a selection of his quirky comic books. I was immediately drawn to the color-palette and design of 1-800-MICE, the back of which boasted it is, “equal parts Thomas Pynchon, Robert Altman, and J.R.R. Tolkien.” Independent book fairs offer the opportunity to take a chance on something that you’d likely not encounter anywhere else. I’ve yet to read through it, but so far I am completely sucked in by the graphics of this book, which oscillate between the twisted figures of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and the simple minimalist grid of newspaper comics.
The highlight of my visit on Friday was meeting Aidan Koch. If you’re a regular reader of the Paris Review, then you’re familiar with Koch’s work, which is featured on the cover of the summer issue. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with Koch and learn more about her minimalist comics that use fine art illustration to capture the intimacy and isolation of people’s interactions. Koch’s table included a few of her books as well as stickers and jewelry all made by the artist.
Every utopia is a social experiment, the artist suggests in this commission for the Performa performance art biennial, and we’re ultimately the guinea pigs.
“You can’t live in a house that’s built upon your back.” This is one of the more memorable phrases spoken by the scripted lovers of Tschabalala Self’s Sounding Board, what Performa describes in its promotional materials as an “experimental play.” That phrase, uttered by one romantic partner to the other, operates as guidance, warning, dictate,…
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