Sep 16, 2015
A Guide to the New York Art Book Fair
This weekend, nearly 400 booksellers, zine makers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers will descend upon MoMA PS1 to hawk their wares at the tenth annual NY Art Book Fair. Hosted by Printed Matter, the Art Book Fair and its thousands of patrons are a reminder that print is far from dead–this maze of rare out-of-print monographs, popup books and flipbooks, weird comics and zines couldn’t exist if e-readers truly ruled the land. The fair can be an overwhelming labyrinth (last year, a crowd of 35,000 showed up), so you’ll likely get lost down an art book rabbit hole, which is kind of the point. But if you can manage to find them, here’s a roundup of exhibitors and events we recommend checking out.
James Cummins Bookseller’s The Archive of Paul Williams
When he founded Crawdaddy! magazine in 1966, Paul Williams (1948-2013) started rock ‘n’ roll journalism. He covered the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Lou Reed. He helped propel sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick into national consciousness with a 1975 Rolling Stone profile, and later became Dick’s literary executor. Here, see Williams’ archive on display, an unparalleled visual record of American counterculture.
Guerilla Girls/Friendly Fire
Everyone’s favorite anonymous gorilla-mask-wearing feminist art collective will be selling posters, stickers, books, and printed projects that “expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large.” They’re featured as part of the Friendly Fire showcase, curated by Printed Matter’s Max Schumann, which highlights politically-minded collectives and presses focused on the intersection of art and activism. Also featured is Black Lives Matter, who will discuss the use of art and graphics in the Black Lives Matter movement in “The Art of Movement Building” event (Sunday at 5pm).
Wild Life Press
In their exhibit A night on the edge of forever – the art of midnight films, free theater and the psychedelic underground: San Francisco 1969 – 1973, Wild Life Press presents artwork and ephemera related to the anarchic protest movements and experimental counterculture of the Bay Area in the early 70s, including work by Steven Arnold, Todd Trexler, The Cockettes, Sylvester and The Angels of Light.
Killer Acid/ XE(ROX) & PAPER + SCISSORS and the Small Press Dome
For the guy who won’t settle for a basic weed leaf patch, Killer Acid sells weed leaf patches featuring weed leafs with three eyeballs typing on MacBooks! The studio’s R. Crumb-inspired psychedelic graphics are plastered all over many a skateboard deck and band t-shirt (like the one above, for Mac DeMarco), plus stickers, buttons, and patches. Killer Acid is one of many exhibitors featured in XE(ROX) & PAPER + SCISSORS and the Small Press Dome in the MoMA PS1 courtyard, a selection of international artists, zinesters, and small presses who represent “independent publishing at its most innovative and affordable.”
The Art Book Fair is one of the best places to find affordable, unique art prints and posters to hang on your walls. Some of the most original comes from Netherlands-based graphic workshop Knust, based out of infamous art space Extrapool, which specializes in stencil (“mimeograph”) print. We love their Slimtarra tiled wallpaper, designed by artists around the Netherlands. If you can’t make it to the fair, check out their shop here.
The Center for Book Arts
There are people who like to read books, and there are people who like to chop them up with scissors and attack them with paint to turn them into art pieces. The people at Center for Book Arts fit in the latter category, selling printed books transformed into strange, beautiful sculptures, as well as popup books, flip books, accordion books, and other reinventions of the form. A lot of the weird, sculptural books here exemplify how small presses are getting more imaginative when it comes to the aesthetics of the printed page, making it do things screens can’t do in order to stay competitive (can a Kindle do this?).
Hal Fischer’s 1977 book, Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men, presented the codes of sexual orientation and identification Fischer saw in San Francisco’s Castro and Haight Ashbury districts. These ranged from sexual signifiers like handkerchiefs and keys, to depictions of the gay fashion archetypes of the time (i.e. ‘basic gay,’ ‘hippie,’ ‘jock’). On Saturday at noon, Hal Fischer and independent curator Tina Kukielski discuss his landmark project and launch a second edition specifically for the 2015 NYABF.
Since this is far from a comprehensive overview, see the (very) full list of Art Book Fair exhibitors and events–including signings, book launches, and performances–here. The NY Art Book Fair runs from September 18th-20th at MoMA PS1, located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY.
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