Interview: Susan Inglett of Editions|Artists Book Fair

Two weeks away! The 2012  Editions|Artists Book Fair will take place Thursday, November 1 to Sunday, November 4 at the Former Dia/Former X Initiative in NYC. It’s a special year in that the E|AB is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. With its long list of exhibitors, the event is not to be missed. In anticipation of the Fair, I posed some questions to the fair’s founder, Susan Inglett. (Photos of past E|AB Fairs were provided by Susan Inglett.)

JU: The Editions|Artists Book Fair has been happening annually for fifteen years. As its founder, can you speak to your personal interest in editioned art and why you started the fair in the first place?

SI: In 1991 I started a publishing company, I.C. Editions, with a specific interest in publishing artists of my generation.

As a publisher without a gallery space I found there were not a lot of venues for presenting the material produced and started to think about creating opportunities that did not require a fixed gallery space and would be inclusive of other publishers of my generation.  By this time many of the exclusive gallery relationships which had fostered the rise of ULAE and Gemini had begun to dissolve and venues for younger publishers working with emerging and mid-career artists to exhibit were non-existent. It was clear that this next generation would need to create its own opportunities, “make our own luck” in a sense.

In 1992 I organized a traveling exhibition Multiplicity which included Vincent Fremont Enterprises, Serena+Warren, Permanent Press, Thea Westreich, Sonnabend/Sundell Editions, Julie Sylvester, Kimberly Mock and I.C. Editions. I followed with exhibitions of recent prints and multiples featuring these publishers and more with shows “Stationary Store,” Renee Fotouhi Fine Arts, East Hampton 1993; “Extra-Ordinary,” Printed Matter, 1993; and “Press-On” at my own newly inaugurated project space in 1994.

The Editions | Artists’ Book Fair grew out of these ventures  spurred by a comment made by a visitor to the IFPDA Fair circa 1997 lamenting the death of publishing as evidenced by the absence of contemporary publishers. The rest was history, I partnered with Brooke Alexander Editions and Printed Matter to found the first Editions | Artists Book Fair in 1998.

JU: Can you contrast the early incarnations of the E|AB Fair with the more recent ones? How has it developed over time and what changes have most surprised you?

SI: The first Fairs were housed at Brooke Alexander Editions and Printed Matter in SoHo and consisted of at best a couple of dozen publishers and book dealers.  The E|AB Fair currently numbers 60 exhibitors and is housed at Center 548, the former Dia Center for the Arts building, and covers over 25,000 square feet. After 15 years of organizing an Art Fair, nothing surprises me.

Every year, there are lots of great prints on view at the E|AB and yet the word “print” is noticeably absent from the fair’s name. It seems like a conscious decision. Can you talk about this?

When naming the Fair we were trying to be as inclusive as possible within the smallest amount of space. “Prints, Multiples, Artists’ Books, Zines, and anything else in an edition of 3 or more” was rejected by our graphic designer.

JU: No doubt planning for the three-day E|AB Fair occurs all year-round. Can you speak a bit about day-to-day logistics of planning the fair?

SI: Last year the Fair ended November 6 and I began planning for E|AB ’12 November 7. I enjoy re-inventing the Fair each year as we continue to grow in size and to add experiences both for visitors and exhibitors.  In my mind E|AB is still the grass-roots operation of 15 years ago and I still call upon my colleagues for the their feedback and expertise.  Many hands makes light work.

JU: The past decades have witnessed a boom of art fairs in general and there’s been a lot of discussion about their role and influence. As a fair organizer, fair participant, and fair goer, what do you think?

SI: As you mention, fairs have continued to proliferate which suggests they provide some value to exhibitor and visitor alike. The E|AB Fair really distinguishes itself in its origins as it provides exhibitors with an otherwise absent physical space to connect with the public and an educational platform for all parties. The Fair originated and continues as an event FREE to the public in order to serve our primary interest, introducing and educating a general public about this most accessible of medium.

JU: Who is the typical E|AB fair-goer?

SI: Museum curators, savvy print collectors, savvy collectors, artists, students, casual visitors, foodies (we have a great caterer).

JU: Are there any trends in editioned art that you find particularly interesting? How, if at all, have perceptions of print and editioned art changed since the E|AB began?

SI: I believe that greater accessibility to digital media has brought printmaking into the studio of more artists. The barriers to entry have been lowered and more and more artists are making editioned work, consciously or unconsciously. This same familiarity has translated to print shops around the world as artists are more comfortable with the media and eager to try new techniques and push the technology, old and new. It’s an exciting moment for prints and multiples as you find editioned work on museum floors generally reserved for paintings and sculpture, MOMA has made considerable strides in this department in recent years. The same can be said for collectors homes and gallery walls.

JU: What are you personally looking forward to seeing at the fair this year?

SI: Monday morning!

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Categories: Interviews

3 Responses to “Interview: Susan Inglett of Editions|Artists Book Fair”

  1. Luther says:

    Great Fair. Thanks to Susan for keeping this going strong for so long. I’ll be stationed at the Forth Estate booth as usual. If you’re reading this and don’t stop by to say hi, I will be disappointed. (I’ll just know… don’t ask how)

  2. Luther says:

    EAB is most likely cancelled due to Superstorm Sandy. Chelsea is out of commission at the moment. The galleries that are on the first floor of the building where the EAB is held are destroyed.
    Very sad

  3. Jason Urban says:

    Thanks, Luther. We’re going to do a post later this afternoon with a print week update…