When it began in 2013, the BABZ Fair (previously known as the Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair) was one of the first events of its kind in Brooklyn. Founded by the blog and publisher Blonde Art Books, the annual fair invites small, independent presses and artists to exhibit and sell their work; until recently, these mainly hailed from the boroughs of New York, but as of last year, BABZ has expanded to include representatives from other American cities.
The fair’s fifth iteration, of which Hyperallergic is the media sponsor, will take place June 3–4 at the Knockdown Center in Queens. Thanks to the venue’s ample space, this is the first year the fair has issued an open call for participants, growing to 108 publishers and artists from last year‘s 31.
“Each year we ask ourselves: Why? What is the reason for doing another fair?” said Sonel Breslav, the founder of Blonde Art Books, over email. “It is within the mission to evolve and present the diversity of this community.”
The exhibitors this year are, as expected, each distinct and independently minded. I’d suggest stopping by the table of We’re Hir We’re Queer, a pamphlet and zine distributor focused on politics and sex that’s based in Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro. For striking and affordable limited-edition prints, visit Authorized to Work in the US, a project that “emerged from a foreign artist’s struggle for his work authorization in the United States.” Among the out-of-towners, Baltimore’s Ctrl+P stands out for featuring astute, funny, and often visual poetry for digital times.
BABZ has also collaborated with the artist Andrea Arrubla for a weekend of wide-ranging events. Among them, artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti will lead a discussion on publishing black writers and artists, and Benjamin Santiago and the Spaundou Players will sing in the made-up language of Spaundou, which is inspired by the artist’s Filipino and Puerto Rican heritage. For those who want to be more actively involved, you can sign up for roundtable discussions with curators, librarians, organizers, and dealers from Printed Matter, the Museum of Modern Art, the Center for Books Arts, and more. And, if you want to do less talking and engage in hands-on activities, Soft Cover Book Binding for Artists and Publishers and Small Editions are hosting a workshop for making handcrafted books.
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