Virtual E/AB: Bywater Bros. Editions

However disappointing, the cancellation of this year’s Editions/Artists’ Books Fair may seem trivial in the broader context of the genuine tragedies caused by superstorm Sandy. But the cancellation represents a tremendous loss for the fair’s exhibitors, who work toward this event all year, and may depend on its success. Printeresting has offered E/AB participants an online platform to showcase new editions. We can’t make up for the loss of the fair, but we hope that our readers will appreciate these great projects (and that you might consider supporting these publishers during a difficult time).

Editions from BYWATER BROS. EDITIONS in Port Colborne, ON:

A Second History by Zhang Dali
136 pages, softcover, edition of 1000
26 copies of this publication includes a special edition by the artist

In his book A Second History, Beijing-based artist, Zhang Dali, examines the widespread use of photographic manipulation carried out by the Chinese government during the regime of Mao Tse-tung (1949–76). Using a compare and contrast format this artist book presents a chronological sequence of original, unmodified images together with their doctored doppelgängers which were manipulated in party-run, photo labs in the 50s, 60s and 70s for the Chinese propaganda market. Altered histories are all around us, embedded in our lives to such an extent that it’s become difficult to imagine what reality really is. In today’s era of 24 hour news coverage and its associated “spin” the idea of getting to the “truth” of something seem almost futile, however with projects like A Second History it is now possible to see a small glimpse of historical media manipulation laid bare.

Scanning the spreads one can see the modifications made by the Chinese censors: In some images key people have been erased, while in others people have been added. Backgrounds have been modified and written slogans on flags have been altered. In other parings the edits appear almost unnoticeable as seen in the spread entitled The Sun Comes to the Kucong People, which features images of women workers harvesting hay in a field. The undoctored image, struck from the original negative, shows a young child peeking out from behind a cluster of busy workers… a detail the censors felt a need to remove. The image of a hapless youngster among robust agrarian workers was obviously at odds with the official party line at the time so the child ended up on the cutting room floor. Unlike his Chinese forbearers who used photography as a tool for indoctrination, Zhang’s use of the medium is more subjective… the core of his presentation is the manipulation itself, with all its associated political, social and artistic implications.

Liquid Assets by General Idea, 1980
Plexiglas, glass test tube, in a printed clamshell box with label and die-cut foam inserts
13 x 7 x 5 inches / 33 x 18 x 13 cm (object)

Signed and numbered edition of 50, plus 5 APs
When the celebrated Canadian artists’ collective, General Idea (1969–1994) set out to create their Liquid Assets edition back in 1980 they planned to produce a run of 50 copies. However, due to the cost of production, they produced only the first 10 pieces of the edition (all unsigned and unnumbered), most of which ended up going to friends and museums.

Bywater Bros. Editions, working in consultation with AA Bronson, is pleased to announce the release of the remaining 40 copies (plus proofs) of this legendary multiple, which has been updated with the addition of a custom-made case. Conceived as a cocktail holder, Liquid Assets was one of the key components in General Idea’s Colour Bar Lounge (1979), The Getting into the Spirits Cocktail Book (1980), and The Boutique from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion (1980). A copy of the edition was also featured on the front cover of the “Special $ucce$$ Issue” of FILE Megazine (vol. 5, no. 1, March 1981). Of the many editions created by the collective, Liquid Assets stands out as one of the most iconic and recognizable works… a work that has been completely unavailable to collectors, until now.
General Idea was founded in Toronto in 1969 by Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson. The collective interrogated media culture through now legendary projects like FILE Megazine (26 issues, 1972-1989), as well as paintings, installations, sculptures, mail art, photographs, videos, ephemera, TV programs, and even beauty pageants. The group’s transgressive concepts and provocative imagery challenged social power structures and traditional modes of artistic creation in ever-shifting ways, until Partz and Zontal’s untimely deaths from AIDS-related causes in 1994.

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