Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair

The following is a guest post by the artist and zine-maker, Anastasia Kirages.

Entrance to Book Fair

If you are tuned into the print and book culture, which you probably are if you read this blog, then you have no doubt heard about Printed Matter’s annual New York Art Book Fair, usually held in Long Island City at MoMA PS1. However, a few weeks ago marked the inaugural opening of the Los Angeles Art Book Fair at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary space located in downtown LA. I had the opportunity to attend the fair while I was in the city visiting a friend and even take a few photos as well.

Zine World

One part of the LA Book Fair that I was looking forward to the most was an entire room devoted to zines called Zine World.  I make zines in my spare time and help organize Zine Fest Houston, so this definitely had me salivating.  Zines have been and are an integral part of LA’s publishing history, which was shown through the numerous displays of zines by Ari Marcopoulos, Dash Snow, Mark Gonzales and Raymond Pettibon from the collection of Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons in Zine Masters of the Universe.  The skate culture was represented in an installation called GSD: Skate Fate Till Today, about an early zine called Skate Fate.  There was also an installation presented by Gagosian Gallery as a tribute to the artist Mike Kelly.  They were selling copies of Mike Kelley’s Reconstructed History, “a collection of idealized images of a shared American heritage culled from scholastic textbooks.”  This was the room where I saw James Franco.  Celebrity sighting on my very first day!

Packed Zine World  PM

A packed Zine World.

Raymond Pettibon zines on display  H

Zines by Raymond Pettibon.

Dash Snow

The late Dash Snow.

Boo Hooray s Larry Clark Pop Up Shop in ZINE WORLD  PM

Boo-Hooray’s Larry Clark Pop Up Shop in ZINE WORLD, and detail below.

Boo Hooray Larry Clark Pop Up Shop detail  H

Gagosian Gallery Mike Kelley Installation

Gagosian Gallery wall for Mike Kelley’s Installation (below).

Mike Kelley Installation

Room full of tablers  PM

Room full of tablers.

In Zine World, I picked up a copy of Issue 8 of Lovely Daze, a curatorial journal of artists’ writings and artworks published biannually in limited editions, which was founded by Charwei Tsai in 2005.  Each issue has a particular theme; the theme of Issue 8 was Pilgrimage.  In addition to the publication, Lovely Daze produces performances working with artists such as Hisham Bharoocha, Japanther, Lizzi Bougatsos and New Humans.  I love the minimal text in this publication because it allows the reader to focus solely on the artwork, which is its main purpose.

 I stopped by the COMBO booth by chance, which is based out of Mexico.  This type of publication takes the form of a poster-magazine and each issue of this publication has a theme as well.  However, it is made with a strong emphasis on the serendipity of the creative process, as opposed to Lovely Daze, which is a more methodical and curated approach.  It was wonderful to learn all about the different production and aesthetic choices from the various publishers at the LA Book Fair, which really reinforced the fact that there is no limit to what one can do with the printed medium.  When it comes to experimental approaches to making publications, the LA Book Fair had a wide range of exhibitors on display, such as 5×7 Books, Three Star Books and Fulton Ryder to name a few.

5x7 Booth  PM

The 5 x 7 booth.

Andrew Roth Dash Snow Movie Book  PM

Andrew Roth-Dash Snow Movie Book.

Black Cat by Three Star Books in Paris  H

Black Cat by Three Star Books in Paris.

Bookmarc Booth  H

Bookmarc Booth

Otherwild Press Booth  PM

Otherwild Press Booth

RedFoxPress Booth  PM

RedFoxPress Booth

Fulton Ryder Booth  PM

Fulton Ryder Booth (above, close-up below).

Fulton Ryder Booth detail  PM

The Master by Nick Gottlund at Swill Children Booth  PM

The Master by Nick Gottlund at Swill Children booth.

Diversity of printed materials is probably one of the main takeaways from the Art Book Fair, both in New York and LA.  I know that some people say that print is a dying medium, but events such as these reveal that that is not the case.  There will always be a need to share information with others and one of the most effective ways to go about this is through the use of text.

It was interesting to see the Art Book Fair in a different context out on the West Coast.  Although the setting was not the same, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of publishing entities to help ring in the first LA Book Fair.  AA Bronson, the director of both Art Book Fairs brought together 220 exhibitors from 21 countries.  Also, the opening on Thursday, January 31 was packed throughout the night with attendance of around 16,000 over the entire weekend.  Based on these numbers, it seems as if the LA Book Fair is here to stay and that Los Angeles is a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry.

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