I Wanna Be a Cowboy

December 3rd, 2013


“Montarias Altamente Perigosas / Highly Dangerous Rides” by Something Always press.  Introducao / Introduction by Tiao Carreiro e Paradinho. Imagens / Pictures by Guilherme Gehreke Maiera’s Archives. Arte / Art by Gabriel Finotti.  Co-published by Melo-melo press. Edition number 58 of 100.

Dual language Portuguese and English.  The English will be provided for this entry.

This book includes 131 low-res black images on the neutral background of the paper stock.  The resolution quality is that of a low grade riso graph.  The images vary from full two-page spreads, to an image on each page, to two-up, three-up, four-up, and up to eight-up per page.  The content is all similar: a man “riding” a statue of an animal, a fish, a stuffed animal, a sculpture of an animal, etc. , etc.  The locations are from Wall Street, to Chinatown, to a rodeo fair ground, to road side attractions.  The book ends with the epigraph: “If you ain’t cowboy, you ain’t shit.”

This publication is fun, entertaining, banal, and engaging.  Compared to the publications in the previous posting, this books gets picked up and reread over and over by people who stop by.  If you can find a copy, check it out.

Cowboy, detail

“Wistful Cowboy Life”

From my cowboy life only memories I have saved

The cowboys shouting and the horn calling the herd

The warm afternoons in August sweat covering my face

From a place to another on the long road

Only God giving his grace.


In Mato Grosso state I was still a babe but I had courage

I face Pantanal, living the ingernal, lacing savage

Allong with my fellows cruel pantaneiros we took from there

In a dangerous path, meeting the death everywhere.


Step-by-step the herd a wild jaguar sometimes followed

Wishing to killer her hunger and the smell of the human the beast dreaded

The sound of the wily horn lazy walk from the tired crew

It was brutal, but I miss what we went through.


By leaving the road it felt to my heart a strong poison

My soft hammock where I use to nod until the quiet

Express cowboys left the pioneer boys with the life upside down

No more horns, elegant transports.

Do you read me, too.

November 30th, 2013

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Do you read me?

November 30th, 2013


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Holiday Reading: Look, Browse, Read, Think…Rest

November 22nd, 2013

For leisurely holiday reading next week I would suggest picking up a copy of Sigrid Calon’s new book “Within the Grid and Beyond the Pattern: 120 Compositions in Form & Colour,” stencil printed on RISO. While not a photobook, the process used to make and print this books is a “photo” copy technology. The copy in hand is edition number 189 of 420. On the dust jacket turn-in around the back board the author includes the following description:
“This work arose out of my fascination for a grid. An embroidery grid, to be precise, with a minimal basic grating of 3 x 3 dots. With these dots, 8 different (embroidery) stitches can be made: one horizontal, one vertical, one 45 degrees to the right, one 45 degrees to the left, one 26.5 degrees to the right, one 26.5 degrees to the left, one 63.5 degrees to the right, and one 63.5 degrees to the left.” Following a discussion about lines as they are translated by a computer, there is a discussion of the unique qualities of the Risograph copier (the effect of screen printing with the ease of photocopying). She continues, “I have chosen to work with 8 colours: fluorescent pink, blue, orange, brown, yellow, green, black and red. … The colour combinations have been teh starting point for the book. 8 colours generate 28 two-colour combinations and 56 three-clolur combinations. Four-colour combinations make 72 options appear. Out of these I have made a selection of 28 so as to have a good basic combination of 4 compositions per A3. Each colour combination in this book appears only once.” There is a brief note about gradations and layers.

Sigrid Calon

Sigrid Calon, page detail

Sigrid’s book is a great introduction to color and color processes is a perfect segue to my second title for holiday reading or browsing: “Color: American Photography Transformed,” by John Rohrbach with an essay by Sylvie Penichon. Published by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the University of Texas, Austin, and The William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere.

American Color

The table of contents include: Forward by Andrew J. Walker, Introduction, One: inventing color photography, Two: defining color (1936-1970), Three: Using color (1970-1990), Four: interrogating color (1990-2010), from potatoes to pixels: a short technical history of color photography, list of plates, bibliography, acknowledgments, Index. Color reproductions throughout are all very high quality, and the book itself is over sized, allowing for enjoyment of large images. An excellent book.

For those of you who are less interested in an artist book, or in a large coffee table book, you might aim for something a little more cerebral: “Minor Photography: Connecting Deleuze and Guattari to Photography Theory,” edited by Mieke Bleyen, published by Leuven University Press, 2012. The book is broken up into three parts.


Part 1: Towards a Theory of the Minor
“From Stuttering and Stammering to the Diagram: Towards a Minor Art Practice?”
Simon O’Sullivan
“Tichy as a Maverick: Singular figure of a Minor Photraphy?”
Gilles Rouffineau
“Always in the Middle: the Photographic work of Marcel Marien. A Minor Approach”
Mieke Bleyen

Part 2: Major Artists – Minor Practice?
“Fear of Reflections: the photoworks of Paul McCarthy”
Neil Matheson
“Considering the Minor in the Literary and Photographic works of Rodney Graham and Tacita Dean”
Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
“Entertaining Conceptual Art: Dan Graham on Dean Martin”
Eric C.H. de Bruyn

Part 3: Surrealism in Variation
“Towards a Minor Surrealism: Paul Nouge and the Subversion of Images”
Frederic Thomas
“Conceptual Art and Surrealism: an Exceptional, Belgian Liaison”
Liesbeth Decan
“Systematic confusion and the total discredit of the world of reality: Surrealism and photography in Japan in the 1930s”
Jelena Stojkovic

Cheers! And have a great holiday week!

photobook, photo books, artists’ books, artists’ publishing, self publishing, independent publishing

November 19th, 2013

So what’s in a name? Or more to the point, what’s in a descriptive phrase? How do we as curator’s, makers, and librarians parse the difference between new publications and publication types that build on the history of 20th century artists’ books and zines?

I have been puzzling over this for the past 15 years, more so in the past five. Ever since attending the second annual self published photobook and zine fair at CCNY, where I first saw artists blending genres, mixing up zines/artists books/photo books/magazines. Often each genre type was referred to or used by different artists though the format remained the same. Interesting and vexing. For the curator this was an interesting change or nuance within the publishing arena. As a library cataloger, of which I am not but work closely with, this was vexing to say the least. Drawing upon historic knowledge a self published or independently published work by an artist might be referred to as an artist book (by the artist/author). A publication of the same size, format, binding, and similar photographic content, by a photographer, might be called a photo book or photo zine. Or vice versa, or neither, or one or the other.

“Proving Ground” by Jason John Wurm, 2013, includes the following colophon note “All photographs were taken on and around the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.” And the copy in hand is number 7 of 20. A limited edition – borrowing the conventions from find printing, or printmaking. The format is that of an 8.5 x 11″, staple (2) bound pamphlet. Red card stock cover and white pages, each with a snapshot photograph, color laser printed recto and verso. Each page has a different image with large white borders. The images are unremarkable: interior and exterior images of domestic spaces, portraits, and snaps of people. I bought it for two reasons: one, it is from Maryland and my library is in Baltimore, so there is regional significance, and two, the publication is genre ambiguous. It could be a zine, it could be a photobook or photo zine, or it could be an example of artists’ publishing. Better yet, it could simply be self published or independently published.

Proving Ground

Proving Ground, detail

A similar work is by the New York artist Lindsey Castillo that is untitled, using color laser printed images and text, also taking advantage of 8.5×11″ sheets folded and stapled to make a pamphlet. She includes images of woman throughout in a washed out light gray and white, with two snaps of a young woman in work wear as a center fold, if that. The text is from the author’s resume and various rejection letters, with elements blackened out much like the CIA does with top secret documents. I selected this book, as with the previous title, because it falls into several genres. But also because it is representative of other works by artist’s documenting their experience in the workplace, or applying for jobs, rejection letters is also another theme in similar works from previous decades. This book, this artist, comments on their experience in this economy and job market; representing the current environment.


Lindsey Castillo, detail

A third such publication is “We Are All” by Cheryl Dunn. This little (insert genre term from above) publication is again a staple bound pamphlet book using color laser printer or similar technology to fix the images to the paper pages. All the images, again, rely on snapshots, most in color, some in black and white. For this book the images are of people, seemingly concert goers at a very large outdoor concert. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, might be another over used theme-description. Why did I  purchase this publication? Again, it is representative of a contemporary genre type recalling an amateur Nan Goldin, if you will, but without the , or what Roland Barthes refers to as the punctum, in his book Camera Lucida. Little photo books/zines like this are so common that many people pass them over, but they clearly are a sub genre unto themselves.

We Are All

We Are All, detail

To make this point, check out “11:15 / 21:09″ by campanhiarapadura.com. Again, the format of a staple bound pamphlet binding on white 8.5×11″ sheets folded in half. Color and black and white images in the shape of snap shots with generous white borders. The images are more aligned to those of “Proving Ground” but of an urban landscape in another country. Again, unremarkable overall. Yet, still compelling within its own sub genre.


11:15, detail

Stay tuned to this blog.  I will post further examples of similar works, but ones that differ in intent/content.

A Different Kind of Order

November 13th, 2013

Right now I am working on a future blog post, scanning book covers and working up an essay.

In the meantime, I would like to briefly review a selection of some of the books that are on my desk, and in my office, that have persistently remained as others come and go.

I have a bound journal, Artforum vol. 3, Sept-June 1964-1965.  I am reviewing by browsing art history journal titles from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, looking for articles on or about photography.  Tracing the literature.  This includes looking at which books were being reviewed, which photography exhibitions were discussed, and reading artist/photographer interviews.  I am also looking at gallery and museum exhibition announcements, advertisements, and other traces.  This is an interesting and daunting process.  I am using Zotero to manage my bibliography and citations as I slog through this process of discovery.

I have a small publication titled “Publishing as (part-time) Practice: the Swedish graphic designers edition) that I picked up at the 2012 NY Art Book Fair.  What is interesting about this publication is that the graphic designers that created it following a daylong symposium in Stockholm in May of 2012 assert the relevancy and primacy of authorship in creative publishing by designers.  Essentially making a place for designers within a field previously privileged by “artists” making artist books.  Designers are making similar works in this century but it does not seem right to call these same/similar publications “artist books”.  Independent publishing by designers, or independent publishing by artists, seems more true to form.

I also have a 1997 copy of Lucy Lippard’s 1973 book “Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972.” This is the first California paperback edition.  The contents, in review, include “escape attempts,” Author’s Notes, Preface, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, Postface, and Index.  If you have always meant to read this book but have not, and you are interested in conceptual art and photography, I encourage you to pick this book up, or check it out from your library.  Then I’d encourage you to read through the catalog published by the Brooklyn Museum of Art last year for an exhibition related to this publication.

Of course I still have a copy of 10 x 10 American Photobooks on my desk.  (Noted in a previous post)

I have a file folder from our Library‘s Vertical File for Stieglitz, Alfred.  This folder includes the following:

1) “Stieglitz in the Darkroom,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, October 4, 1992 – February 14, 1003.

- A 14 page catalog, or pamphlet, really, with an essay, notes, selected further reading list, and glossary of terms.

2) “Alfred Stieglitz: at Lake George,” June 20-September 22, 1996.

- A single fold exhibition announcement.

3) “The Yale University Library Gazette,” April 1951, vol. 25 no. 4.

- Opening to and starting on page 123 and running through page 130, is an essay by Doris Bry that starts with “What is Stieglitz?”

4) “Alfred Stieglitz and an American place, 1929-1946,” May 2-June 2, 1978, Zabriskie Gallery, 29 West 57 Street, NY 10019.

- A pamphlet, staple bound, 12-page catalog.  One page essay, 6 photograph reproductions, one photo per page, Check list of photographs by Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Alfred Stieglitz, and paintings by Charles Demuth, Arthur G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Georgia O’Keefe.  There is a note, too, thanking and listing lenders to the exhibition.

5) Alfred Stieglitz, An exhibition of photographs by, March 15 to April 27, 1958, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

- Includes a forward by John Walker, Director, and an essay by Doris Bry, followed by a check list of prints in the exhibition, a chronology, and bibliography, then selected plates from the exhibition.

Two other books of note, on my desk, are “Cultural Hijack: Rethinking Intervention,” edited by Ben Perry, et. al., and “Fully Booked: Ink on Paper,” published by Gestalten.  Both are quite interesting.  The latter relates to the Swedish publication, noted above.

Have you seen “A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial“?  Authors are listed as Joanna Lehan, Kristen Lubben, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers.  The Executive Director, Mark Robbins, introduces the book with “Out of Order: Director’s Forward.” The curatorial team further introduces the book and themes with short essays.  The themes include: Analog; Artist as Aggregator; Collage; Community; Mapping and Migration; Post-Photography; Self-Publishing; The New Aesthetic.  Following this introduction are entries for artists, including a brief sketch, place and year of birth, where the artist currently lives, and some color plates.  The photographers include: Roy Arden, Huma Bhabha, Nayland Blake, A.K. Burns, Aleksandra Domanovic, Nir Evron, Sam Falls, Lucas Foglia, Jim Goldberg, Mishka Henner, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Oliver Laric, Andrea Longacre-White, Gideon Mendel, Luis Molina-Pantin, Rabih Mroue, Wangechi Mutu, Sohei Nishino, Lisa Oppenheim, Trevor Paglen, Walid Raad, Nica Ross, Michael Schmelling, Hito Steyerl, Mikhael Subotzky/Patrick Waterhouse, Shimpei Takeda.

What is on your desk?

UBER ALLES by Erik Steinbrecher

November 1st, 2013

In late September when I visited the Berlin Art Book Fair: MISS READ, I had the pleasure to meet and visit with most of the vendors. In my last posting I shared information about the September Issue, which I picked up at the fair. During my visit I also had the pleasure to be introduced to Erik Steinbrecher by the artist Michalis Pichler. A couple of days later following a tour of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the curator, Dr. Michael Lailach gave me a copy of “UBER ALLES” that was co-published with the author, Erik Steinbrecher.

“UBER ALLES” was published in 2013. The ISBN is 978-3886-097326, and the current price is 35.00 euros. Erik was gracious enough to provide a short description of this project:
“This artist’s book is a collection of eleven items including booklets, photography,
posters by Erik Steinbrecher. This publication accompanies the artist’s exhibiton
at the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin from 8 November 2012 to 17 February
2013. The show presents books, prints and other artworks from 1995 to 2012.”

The titles of the items included in the bag UBER ALLES are:
1 Paar Schuhe/ pair of shoes
Astra Turbo
Knacki Knacki
Wie am Schnürli
Free Poster ( Ei/ egg)

Artist Biography:
Erik Steinbrecher, born in 1963 in Basel, lives and works in Berlin. His work has developed in two main directions: the area of architecture and sculpture and the realm of photography. The artist not only realises more and more projects in public space, but he also takes a passionate interest in images of the mass media.

I am including some images of UBER ALLES in this posting.

What is most impressive is Erik’s publishing record. Since starting to explore the arena of Independent Publishing he has produced many more titles than most artists produce in a lifetime of publishing. I will post a few more examples of his photobooks in a few days.


Untitled (September Magazine)

October 21st, 2013

While at the Berlin Art Book fair in late September I made a point to visit with all of the 95 plus book vendors. One that stood out was Vanity Press. I picked up a new edition of Fiona Banner’s “All the World’s Fighter Planes” and a photo book/magazine by Paul Elliman, Untitled (September Magazine), co-published by Vanity Press and Roma Publishers. It is a delightful send-up of the September issue of Vogue magazine. But what is nice about Elliman’s version is that, like the Ruscha photobooks of the early 1960s, this includes no descriptive text, if you don’t count the barcode on the cover. In essence it is a distillation or reduction of this infamous issue of Vogue that arrives at the newsstand and in mailboxes early in the fall season, but this rendition is purely image based; only the sumptuous full page, full bleed photos of models, clothing, nudity. What we secretly enjoy and are drawn to in fashion magazines. There are even fold out pages of this glossy magazine. My only regret was that there were none of the perfume pages that stud fashion magazines. But that is a minor regret.

IMAGES: click here for a link to the Vanity press website where you can view images of Untitled (September Magazine).

Copies can be purchased at a premium from the publisher in pounds Sterling, or I just found two copies on Amazon.com USA, for $57.00.

Here is copy from Vanity press about this publication:
Untitled (September magazine)
Paul Elliman is a London based artist whose practice is frequently referenced by graphic designers. His work with typography, using found objects and industrial débris in which no letter-form is repeated, is legendary.

Paul Elliman’s publication takes the form of a 600 page glossy magazine, completely absent of any editorial text. Instead, it is only comprised of heavily cropped and juxtaposed images collected by Elliman over many years. The publication conveys in itself a kind of text spelled out in body shapes, signs and gestures. “In photographed fragments, the body seems both to correspond to the shapes of letters and to assume writing’s inanimate agency. Or maybe another spirit altogether is communicated by the perverse range of images, a secret map of the inner territory of language conducted by the body…Some of the shapes and lines resemble script or alphabetical signs: vertical, diagonal or horizontal limbs; straight, arching or crossed arms, the curve of the back or the neck. But in most cases they seem even more abstract, whether moving or still, even while enacting gender or other socially-specific coded gestures or posture”

Untitled (September magazine) Published by The Vanity Press, London and Roma Publications, Amsterdam, 2013



An Opportunity…?

October 8th, 2013

Association of Art Historians 40th Annual Conference 10-12 April 2014

The Royal College of Art, London

Call for Papers: Expanded Photography

Session Chair: Dr. Lucy Soutter, The Royal College of Art

Contemporary artists are transforming our understanding of photography by combining it with other forms and activities. Many recent works incorporating photography have material or spatial aspects, overlapping with painting, sculpture, installation or architecture. Others emphasize action or the passage of time, combining photography with elements of moving image, performance or audience participation. Digital technology provides yet further hybrid manifestations of photography within art. While many such works have roots in the conceptual art of the 1960s-70s or in the more recent activities of “new media” there are many that could not have been conceived before the present era. How are we to undertand such practices? What is their relationship to the history of photography and the history of art more broadly?

The panel considers the current extensions of photography within the expanded field of contemporary art. Papers may address questions including: to what extent do contested notions of medium remain useful? Should we follow George Baker in regarding photography as merely one form among others, no longer a destination in itself? Is it productive to consider practices that combine photography with other forms alongside one another, and what might it contribute to our understanding to do so? How do these concerns relate to existing theories of the photographic? What are the implications for the future study of photography?

Abstracts of less than 250 words + CV or short bio may be sent to lucy.soutter@rca.ac.uk before 11 November, 2013.

Responses will be sent by 20 November.

Recent Acquisitions: Personal Library

October 4th, 2013

As noted earlier, I had the pleasure to attend both the NY Art Book Fair and the Berlin Art Book Fair in the same weekend. Unfortunately I did not have time to adequately browse the fair in NY in a manner suitable to collecting and acquiring new titles. I did, however, pick up the Eve Fowler book (see recent post) and the three books I will discuss in this posting. In a future posting I will share and discuss books I received as gifts from Michael Lailach, Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Sammlung Buch – und Medienkunst, from the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. He presented me with a publication and a large ziploc bag with ten artists’ publications by a German artist (stay tuned).

The New York Art Book Fair 2013

This first entry is for The New York Art Book Fair program/fair/conference guide.  It is a small publication measuring 15×10.5 cm, and 1.5 cm thick.  The fair is managed by Printed Matter and held at MOMA PS 1.  This year the fair was September 19-23, 2013, with an opening preview on Thursday evening.  This small publication is arranged as follows: two pages of front matter; descriptions of New Editions commissioned by Printed Matter for the fair; a description of the New Publication by Eve Fowler commissioned by the Conference planning committee (of which I am a part of); an overview of the Conference; an overview of the Classroom (a curated series of conversations, readings, and various other events); a schedule of Book Signings; listings of Featured Programs & Performances; (each year the NYABF focuses on a country or theme, this year …) the Focus on Photography, included a room of just photobooks and photo magzines; The Schoolyard (zinsters and innovative publications), including Friendly Fire (politically minded artists), and Flaming Creatures (queer artists and zine makers); and featured exhibitions as part of the fair; and a focus on Swiss publishing.  The remainder and majority of the publication is reserved for ad listings for each of the nearly 300 publishers/vendors included in the fair.

Booktrek, Clive Philpot

As part of the Conference there were two Keynote presentations.  The first was at 7pm Thursday night as part of the Fair preview.  This keynote featured a conversation between Clive Phillpot, director of the MoMA library from 1977 to 1994, and Christophe Cherix, MoMA’s Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books, who contributed to the introduction of Phillpot’s new book published by JRP: Booktrek.  This is a book of selected essays on artist’s books from 1972 to 2010, penned by Phillpot.  The table of contents include the Forward, a conversation between Clive Phillpot, Lionel Bovier, and Christophe Cherix; an Introduction titled “from N.E. Thing Co. to Anything goes?”; 28 essays, starting with a short piece in 1972 through to an essay on Sol LeWitt in 2010; 246 pages in total.  Back matter includes a “Bibliography: Twentysix Valued Volumes, 2002″, Index of Names, and acknowledgements. The interview is worth reading as it puts Phillpot’s essays into context.  This publication measures 21 x 15 x 2.5 cm.

the book on books on artists books

The Book on Books on Artists Books, is by Arnaud Desjardin and published by The Everyday Press, London, 2011.  The copy I have in hand is a second edition of a book originally published as an artist’s book.  In the Forward, the author encourages the reader to “get in touch” if they “notice any mistakes, mis-attributions, and mis-descriptions.”  Part of the aim of this publication is to introduce new works to each reader.  Following the Forward is a brief introduction about the book including information about bibliographic data, bibliographic hierarchies, and bibliographic information; the history and roles there of, and the relative importance to the entries within this volume.  This is essentially a reference bibliography on the topic of artist’s books.  (I encourage you to read the Introduction before reading or browsing the following entries in this book, should you decide to purchase it).  The bibliography is organized into the following categories: Exhibition Catalogs, pp. 11-74; General Reference, pp. 75-120; Collection Catalogs, pp. 121-132; Artist Monographs, pp. 133-164; Publisher Monographs, pp. 165-176; Artists’ Books on Books, pp. 177-184; Periodicals, pp. 185-196; Publisher Catalogs, pp. 197-222; Yearbooks & Fair Catalogs, pp. 223-230; Dealerships, pp. 231-307.  There is a “caveat” by the author explaining how this arrangement is not traditional.  Also, I should mention that each of these preceding categories includes a short description, or explanation.  There is also an Addendum, pp. 308-319.  This includes all of the publications that were left out of the first edition and are not included in the preceding categories.  The author acknowledges these omissions may be significant, but that they did the best they could to compile known titles at the time of publication.  If you are interested in the literature of or about artists’ books, you should consider adding this book to your collection of reference resources.  It is not exhaustive, but does include important titles, known and unknown.  This publication measures 22 x 15 x 2.3 cm.