NEIU Art Center Gallery,
With special guests:
Cantab Publishing (Chicago)
Justseeds Artists' Cooperative (Pittsburgh/All-over)
K48/Scott Hug (NYC)
Office of Culture and Design (Philippines)
& Pens Press (LA)
Pre Libri (Japan)
Publication Studio (Portland, OR)
Rotland Press (Detroit)
Francsec Ruiz (Spain)
Temporary Services (Chicago/Philly/Copenhagen)
Ugly Duckling Presse (NYC)
Work Press, (St. Louis)
And in close collaboration with
Who Publishes the Publishers?
I could write pages and pages about why I like books, ranging from the unprecedented historical importance of the day the codex and printing press met, to the countless innovative ways artists and writers have found to fill these discrete, indexical containers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a luddite, but I fret about the design problems inherent in our glowing rectangles, the shortcomings of the hypertext scroll, the tyranny of the search term, and the corporate and ideological systems hidden under the surfaces of our information age. In my opinion, old-technology books often elegantly sidestep these new-technology problems. However, more interesting than the content delivery wars is what happens when creatives move in and start playing with book technology.
Of course, creative hacking of book technology has been around for as long as there have been books. A sampling of artist’s books can give a sense of the variety of bibliophilic interventions through time, from the truly eccentric (William Blake), to the avant-garde (Futurists, Vorticists, Constructivists, Dada, Surrealism), to intellectual deconstruction (Concrete Poetry, COBRA, Dieter Roth, Ed Ruscha), to the boldly experimental (John Cage, Fluxus, Yoko Ono, Johanna Drucker, Claire Van Vliet), to the slow explosion of contemporary artists books.
And this brief list doesn’t take into account the compelling worlds of zines, underground comics, experimental writing, poetics, etc. The contemporary scene of hard text publishing is a thriving world of people modeling alternative textual experiences, documenting important and mundane events, and creating room for thought experiments. And what is most interesting is that the divide between the publishers and the makers is closing; the content creators are the publishers. This is not vanity publishing; rather, publishing has become an important part of an art practice. It’s a method for getting the work out of the gallery or the bookstore and into the hands of a diverse audience, as well as a means to circulate ideas in a community of makers. It’s about putting something in someone else’s hands.
Q: Seriously, though, that sounds cool and avant-garde and everything, but who has time to sit and read a book anymore?
A: I’m glad you asked; that question is really the impetus for Publisher! Publisher!. In conceiving of this exhibition I wanted to celebrate the work of a handful of small press publishers, using their talent and diversity to speak for the larger community of book publishers working today.
I also aimed to create a space that invites the audience to spend a few minutes doing what I most want to do: slow down and read a book.
And I wanted to create a publication that would have a life after this exhibition closes.
Creator & Producer: Amze Emmons
Publication Designer: Jenn Pascoe
Support from the NEIU Fine Art Center Gallery and Tyler School of Art at Temple University made this exhibtion publication possible. Massive thanks to Blender Architecture for the beautiful exhibition design.