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Underdog Artists and Publishers at the NY Art Book Fair

In an effort to promote the underdog, we decided to focus on booths from the artists and publications that will be their state or country’s sole representative.

Lugemik: Digital poster for Too Good To Be Photographed (courtesy of Lugemik)

Celebrating its 12th year, Printed Matter’s annual NY Art Book Fair lands at MoMA PS1 this weekend. With more than 370 participating artists, publishers, and booksellers, the fair also features a series of events — including P!DF by Prem Krishnamurthy, in which the local designer and curator presents his genre-bending, interactive app, a create-your-own-adventure performative monograph that changes according to the whims and desires of its audience.

Image from “P!DF” a interactive monograph/memoir/manifesto (courtesy of Prem Krishnamurthy)

Like every year, you’ll find many booths populated by creative people from New York, California, the U.K., and Germany. In an effort to promote the underdog, we decided to focus on some booths from some of the “smaller” states and countries, specifically the artists and publications that will be their state or country’s sole representative at the Art Book Fair. I communicated with all the representatives via email.

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Extra Vitamins (Colorado)

Extra Vitamins is a two-person art and design studio based in Denver. Julia Belamarich and Kyle Warfield’s often-playful projects include artist books, installations, design, and even clothing. “Our work explores the inner kid, primitive expression, visual synchronicities, and post-internet tendencies,” they say. At their table you’ll find a stencil book consisting entirely of cutout pages and transparencies, a photo book of “urban peculiarities,” and a psychedelic illustrated piece inspired by children’s picture books. “With all of our books, we experiment with unconventional materials, bindings, and tactile interactions,” Belamarich and Warfield explain. “Some of the books we release are also paired with a piece of clothing. We pull illustrations and symbols from the books and transform them to fit the new medium, often with a maximalist approach.”

Image of As It Is (courtesy of Extra Vitamins)

Lugemik (Estonia)

Since 2010, Lugemik, a Tallinn-based independent publisher, has focused on promoting projects by visual artists as well as contemporary playwrights, architects, and designers. For its fifth year at the NYABF, they’re launching four new books. Too Good To Be Photographed, edited by Lithuanian artist and curator Paul Paper, uses photography to address the medium’s failures and features reproductions by 47 artists from around the world. They also have a new survey of Estonian artist Flo Kasearu, as well as Notes on Space: Monumental Painting in Estonia 1947–2012 for which Paul Kuimet provided the photographs and historian Gregor Taul provided the texts. The last book, The Travellers: Voyage And Migration in New Art From Central And Eastern Europe, features work by 24 Eastern European artists, each pondering “mobility, nationalism and the post-socialist condition,” says Lugemik co-founder and artist Anu Vahtra.

OMMU (Greece)

Athens’s OMMU bookstore and publisher likes to find links between contemporary art and history. “We’re interested in working with contemporary artists from Greece, such as Jannis Varelas, but also we love to work on archival material, like Juan Puyal’s work, which was never before published in one volume, but appeared only in fetish magazines in the ‘70s,” says co-founder Marina Legaki, who notes that they’ve been researching rare and historic publications from Greece starting from the ‘50s through the early ‘80s. She continues:

I think it’s the best context to focus on the history and making of art books, and look into hidden aspects that surprise you with original writing and content relating to issues such as gender equality, social rights and creative freedom.

Ommu: Cover of Coloring Book by Jannis Varelas (screenshot by author)

Artport Tel Aviv (Israel)

Non-profit arts center and residency program Artport Tel Aviv is well versed in art book fairs. In fact, it hosts its own book fair every year. For its third year at the NYABF, Artport will offer over 30 different books by its programs’ residents and alumni, “mostly artist books that are a project by itself,” notes director Vardit Gross, who was declared last year one of the most influential people in Israeli culture. The books will include a flipbook “playing with color and gender fluidity” by Gili Avissar, Ron Amir‘s photos of refugees at the Holot detention center, and t-shirts and tote bags with paintings by Fatma Shanan.

Issue Press (Michigan)

Based in Grand Rapids, publisher/printer George Wietor says he’s “primarily interested in work that trades in humor, history, and exploration of place.” Using Risograph printers, he collaborates with fellow printmakers, illustrators, photographers, and performance artists.

He’s bringing 10 new titles to the fair this year, including works by Canadian and Brazilian artists, and books that track rainstorms, revisit New York’s old bathhouses, and map the stars. “I am always surprised to be the only or among the few presses representing Michigan at book fairs around the country and abroad,” Wietor says. “But Michigan has a long history of critical and radical publication, as well as a burgeoning community of new, arts-based publishers that are really exciting,” he goes on. “The Detroit Art Book Fair is an excellent example of the new spirit of publishing in Michigan.”

Gary Kachadourian (Oklahoma)

“The bulk of my work has been Xeroxed publications that reproduced drawings in the form of scale, paper models or life-sized posters of common objects, like jersey barriers or portable toilets,” says Gary Kachadourian, who lives in Oklahoma as a fellow in the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, but previously attended the NYABF as a Baltimore-based artist. “This year I’ve been working on five new publications that are made entirely of etchings, specifically, scraped aquatints. These are perspectival depictions of scenes, buildings, or interiors mostly in the Tulsa area.” Inspired by 19th-century etchings, they include a survey of modernist, postwar churches, clothing displays in corporate boutiques, and public restroom interiors.

 

Gary Kachadourian: Cover of Templates for a Limitless Field of Tall Weeds (courtesy of Gary Kachadourian)

DIK Fagazine (Poland)

DIK Fagazine is the first, and, so far, the only art magazine from Central and Eastern Europe concentrated on homosexuality and masculinity,” says Karol Radziszewski, the artist who founded the publication in 2005. “It gradually evolved from a periodical addressing the current situation in Poland to a platform exploring queer archives determined to discover our ‘queer ancestors.’” A combination of queer archival research and contemporary art, the magazine features interviews with “artists, authors, prominent names in culture, as well as ordinary guys,” according to Radziszewski.

At DIK Fagazine’s booth, you’ll find two recent issues, “Zagreb: Queering the Museum” and “Communist Homosexuality.” Radziszewski says he’ll also use the fair to launch the latest issue, which focuses on Belarus. How does he feel about being the only publication from Poland at the fair this year? “I think it’s quite funny and ironic that pretty homophobic Poland is represented here only by the queer magazine.”

Nicodim Gallery (Romania)

With branches in Bucharest and Los Angeles, Nicodim Gallery is bringing catalogues of recent shows to the NYABF, says global director Benjamin Lee Ritchie Handler.

We’ve recently published titles on three Romanians: Razvan Boar, Ecaterina Vrana, and Ciprian Muresan,  as well as a volume on a massive group show curated by Aaron Moulton titled Omul Negru, which is the Romania phrase for “bogeyman.” It’s an anthropological study of evil as transcribed through the vernacular of contemporary art.

Nicodim gallery, installation view of Omul Negru in Bucharest, 2016 (screenshot by author)

Ritchie Handler notes that gallerist Mihai Nicodim “has slightly macabre tastes and an impeccable eye,” letting artists and curators he likes do pretty much whatever they want, bringing artists like Adrian Ghenie, Ciprian Muresan, and Simphiwe Ndzube their first shows in the U.S. (Nicodim’s booth will feature unique copies of the artist book Ndzube made concurrent with his show in L.A.)

“As any Westerner who’s been to one of our shows in Bucharest will tell you, things get pretty wild out there,” Ritchie Handler adds.

If you haven’t been to a bar where a circle of gypsies are having a head-butting contest, or nudist witches are hosting a three-day satanic rave in the forest, or a gallery puts on an exhibition with a figure-eight ice-skating rink intentionally designed to force collisions (our January show), I highly recommend you come visit. If you can’t swing the airfare, pop by our table and I’ll head butt you for free!

A past edition of the New York Art Book Fair (photo by Claire Voon for Hyperallergic)

Russian Independent SelfPublished (Russia)

Founded in 2015, Russian Independent SelfPublished is an artist collective that promotes its own photo books as well as books by Russian authors. “Awareness of the photo book as an artistic medium is still low in Russia,” says founding member Natalia Baluta.

Our mission in Russia is to inform, teach, and allow access to photo books for a broader audience. Our mission internationally is to facilitate integration of photo books and artists from Russia into the international network and market.

Baluta says their booth will feature titles that were popular at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair in February — the group’s first experience in the U.S. — as well as Baluta’s own brand new art book, and a selection of vintage Soviet books published in the 1930s through the 1980s. “This helps us to show broader visual context, our DNA, and how contemporary projects are rooted in the tradition or overwrite it,” Baluta explains. “We also saw great interest from the audience to this type of vintage publications, as during USSR times very few people in Europe and America had a chance to see them.” As the only group from Russia at the fair this year, Baluta says she sees this as “a great responsibility and opportunity to start building a dialogue. Our work is an opportunity to give a ‘voice’ to real people of Russia and let those stories travel.”

Promotional photo of Russian Independent SelfPublished (courtesy Russian Independent SelfPublished via Facebook)

Actual Source (Utah)

Twice a year, Actual Source releases a publication called Shoplifters, featuring artwork and interviews with visual artists, designers, and photographers. “Many times, work is created specifically for the publication, as was the case for Dinamo Typefoundry, who made a custom typeface for Shoplifters 5 and created 10 pages of new work to show,” says co-founder JP Haynie. “Every issue looks different; it doesn’t have a single identity. The format changes each time we put it out.” This year, Actual Source is bringing three new titles to the fair, including the 6th issue of Shoplifters (back issues will also be available) and books by Joel Evey and Sam Wood.

Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair takes place at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens) Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24.

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