On the first weekend of October, just over the Pulaski Bridge, 283 independent book-sellers, indie publishers, artists, zine makers, and their enviably hip brethren gathered at the NY Art Book Fair to trade, sell, and share their mutual love of print.
As you can imagine, hundreds of booths, teaming with well-designed books and well-designed people who want tell you about their well-designed books can be overwhelming. It’s like browsing a great quaint, independent book store and then realizing that it happens to be the size of a three-story school-turned-museum with a massive tent that has even more books and is somehow filled with a crowd of the coolest, artsiest, all-around hippest people you’ve ever seen in your life (which is notable, considering you live in Brooklyn). It’s mathematically impossible to see/browse/read it all, unless you spent three full days flipping pages, in which case you would probably work yourself into an art book induced frenzy (obsessively binding xerox copies of visual haikus until you can no longer eat or sleep).
That’s why I’ve decided to break down a few of the highlights. Here they are for your visually minded reading pleasure:
Pau Wau Publications
Pau Wau is an independent publishing collective dedicated to designing and printing hand-made, limited-edition photography books. The collective, having the good taste to set up shop in Greenpoint, was created by skater photographer, Andreas Lazlo Konrath and designers, Brian Paul Lamotte and Simon Howell. The three friends started experimenting with low-budget photo zines and binding methods a few years ago. It’s immediately clear that a genuine love of print goes into creating these books; from the colored binding to the paper texture– every element is carefully selected and designed to produce something that feels more like a personal souvenir or treasured artifact than just another book on a shelf. The book themes draw on gritty aspects of youth culture, from UK punks to amateur boxers. Pau Wau’s Art Fair table also displayed an eye-catching new book by photographer Nick Haymes titled “N.S.E.W,” which features gorgeous, contrasty black and white portraits and abstract stills. As the boys told Remix Magazine, “At the end of the day we want to print things. These are not things you can download off iTunes. We still love print and we love the smell of it.”
MG is another collectively owned zine, founded by Denise Schatz in 2008. The collaborators wanted to throw off the hubris of the art world by including no descriptions or text in their publications. The result is sleek, simple pages of images that relate and connect to one another, leaving the viewer to draw whatever meaning they so choose. Some of the zines fold out into shapes, forming sacred objects to be displayed in the home. The books focus on everything from houseplants to light patterns and apartment interiors, imbuing each image with an intimate fuzziness, as if we are catching a glimpse into the interior of a stranger’s bedroom. “Knots,” for instance, is a collection of photos with the title theme, from thick nautical rope to shoelaces to freeway overpasses wound together. Another favorite is “Books + Records,” thoughtfully composed images of Denise’s books paired with select albums from her boyfriend’s record collection.
The Thing Quarterly
The Thing Quarterly is a witty “object-based publication” formed by artists, Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan. Each issue is left up to the creative discretion of a different contributor, who is invited to make a useful object that in some way incorporates text. For the not-so-stingy price of $240, subscribers will receive four reproductions of these objects per year by mail, like a shower curtain by writer, Dave Eggers, lined with a confession that begins with: “I am your shower curtain.” The periodical has had a range of contributors from indie darling, Miranda July, to James Franco, who created a limited edition switchblade with FOREVER engraved in it’s metallic surface. Why spend $850 on a switchblade made by an attractive actor turned writer turned director? I can’t answer that question. I can say though, that I got a sneak peak of the Fall gift from filmmaker, graphic designer, and artist, Mike Mills, a book of highly pixilated images documenting seminal events that have shaped our collective consciousness over the past several decades, and it’s well worth a flip-through.
Started as the blog MOSSfull by New Yorker, Romke Hoodwaerts, Mossless features in-depth interviews with up and coming photographers, each issue of the printed magazine designed as a showcase of their work. In it, we see overexposed images of celebratory youth, awkward body language, and stark, playful objects with tongue and check compositions. Issue 1 is composed of a cardboard box, containing color booklets showing work from photographers Alana Celil, Bobby Doherty, Brea Souders and Seam Vegezzi, while Issue 2 features a collection from ten photographers, curated around similar themes.
See you next year!