The artist book might be one of the most misundestood art genres and it is certainly not one that is easy to define. „Neither an art book nor a book on art, the artist’s book is a work of art on its own“ states critic Lucy Lippard. Taking up the notion of the book as an artistic object in itself – rather than a mere supplement or catalogue – the publishing fair MISS READ brings together international artists and publishers working on this common principle. Coming from cities such as Los Angeles, Lisboa, Hongkong and of course Berlin, they have set up their booths in the so-called Bananenhalle, next to the abc main hall, to present their approaches to artistic publishing.
Often considered a unique phenomenon of the 20th century, the artist book can actually be traced back as far as to the painter and poet William Blake, who was one of the first to combine text with images. The fusion of image and text is also one of the formats you are most likely to find at MISS READ, and the combination of these two elements, in the form of the book, enables a wholly different experience than most, more established forms of art – opening new spaces and new approaches with each turn of the page and thus becoming a medium almost prefigured for visual story-telling.
At MISS READ you will find works of graphic design and photography at Pogo Books or Westphalia, theory and poetry, or half-ironic manifestos. The small Berlin-based publishing house Broken Dimanche Press sells the so-called Wordpharmacy by Danish writer Morten Søndergaard – little paper medicine boxes, each containing a poem.
In this way, the presented works can be considered as book objects rather than books to be lined up on a shelf. They’re little works of art in their own rights, visual and textual narratives, archives, and collections.
The following is a small selection of some of the publications which can be found at MISS READ.
MONO.KULTUR 24: Cyprien Gaillard
The mono-thematic magazine MONO.KULTUR devotes each issue to a single artist, creating a new design for each edition. After featuring Tilda Swinton and Dries van Noten among others, issue 24 featured much
hailed Berlin-based artist Cyprien Gaillard, whose performance at Schinkel Pavillon was one of the most anticipated events of 2012 Art Week. Showing an eclectic collection of his work and providing an extensive interview, the edition shows Gaillard’s interests in the relationship between construction and deconstruction as well as the contradictions of contemporary landscape and architecture. Tying the publication to Gaillard’s proclivity for destruction, this issue from 2010 can only be opened by fracturing the sealed magazine – thus
destroying the original work.
Labour Issue # 1, Melissa Gordon, Marina Vishmidt
Labour Issue # 1 is the first work to emerge from a thematically driven project initiated by artist Melissa Gordon and writer Marina Vishmidt. This periodical which features articles and interviews initially arose from a series of meetings between working female artists entitled ‘A conversation to know if there is a conversation to be had’, held at semi-public spaces in New York, Amsterdam, Berlin, and London. With this work, the publishers intend to stimulate a dialogue that is still all too often lacking in conventional discourse
– that of the place and function of women in the workplace and more specifically in the art sector. Melissa Gordon and Marina Vishmidt assembled a selection of writers and artists whose work aims to at
once actively criticise and rethink the concept of ‘feminised‘ labour. From this starting point, Labour Issue #1 addresses a range of prevalent issues, and instead of adopting a singular perspective, chooses to present this conversation from a number of different angles, allowing for a ‘cacophony of voices’ to percolate.
At Night, Jean-Michael Seminaro
Founded in 2010, Claudio Pfeifer’s Pogo Books quickly established itself as a reliable resource for limited editon artbooks and zines. Based on a strong belief in printed matter, Pogo Books promotes
talented creative individuals from a range of fields. One of them is the artist and photographer Jean-Michael Seminaro from Montreal, whose book „At Night“ emerged from a shot which didn’t initially work out as
he had intended. Intrigued with the reflections that could be produced at night, Seminaro began to shoot everything with the built-in flash, playing with the possibilities of his discovery and revealing new ways
to capture the night. A suburban garden, comes to function as a leitmotiv throughout the book, as Seminaro shows how we attempt to control and organise the nature with which we come into contact. “At Night” is in essence an ode to Jean-Michael Seminaro’s love of the night, of walking at night, especially in winter – when everything seems to be awaiting a new beginning.
By Frauke Fentloh, RADIUS. magazine, Editor for EYEOUT