Let's be honest here.
Fuck art fairs. Long live art book fairs.
This weekend Printed Matter opens the first ever LA Art Book Fair. This is important. I want you to go.
Art books are generally everything you wanted art to be but you can actually afford it.
I don't know how much Laura Owen's paintings are going for, more than I make a year or five it's safe to assume, but her book, Fruits and Nuts is available at Ooga Booga for $500; each is its own unique beauty, handmade with love by the artist.
Art books from silkscreened zines to the 10,000-copy museum catalogue carry a spectrum and knowledge, a love that is all the more compelling for being next to art. Art books are art for sure, but they sometimes have the stigma of the print, which can be at its worst a glorified poster, signed and numbered by the artist in editions of hundreds in twenty different sizes.
Art books more than prints (which lets admit can be beautiful too) carry knowledge, some are merely picture books of course, but altogether they are a story, a sequence, a phrase of time just for you. Reading a book is always a personal experience, a letter, from the author to you; next time you curl up next to the fire with your painting remember these words.
Edie Fake, 2009; © LA Art Book Fair.
This like all fairs is less a place to sell things and truly a conclave of the committed. Avoid the dilettantes at the art fairs; here there is unfettered and often unremunerated love. So please do try to buy something; that ten dollar zine you just purchased fulfills someone's purpose in life, often the one you just bought it from.
Below are a few of the sundry events we think are gems.
4:00 - 4:50 pm, Mezzanine Theater
A Doomsday Day Planner: Mark Hagen in conversation with Dr. Jon R. Stone
Mark Hagen’s 2013?: A Doomsday Day Planner is a functional day planner as well as encyclopedia of over 150 failed doomsday predictions going back two millennia (from 6th century BCE Romans, to Ronald Reagan, to the recent New Age predictions for December 21, 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar). Hagen will discuss Eschatology (the study of beliefs concerning the "end of the world" or "end time") with Jon R. Stone, PhD, Professor in the Religious Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach, scholar of 19th and 20th century American Millennial groups, author of Expecting Armageddon (2000), and contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism (2011).
2:00 pm, stand W05
Charlie White and Stephanie Ford, Such Appetite
Presented by Little Brown Mushroom
Such Appetite presents a selection from Charlie White's The Cyrilla Strothers Project 2004-2006, in which the life of an exurban teenager was documented from ages 16 to 18. The book comprises a series of twenty-four photographs in tandem with poems by Stephanie Ford, offering a focused gaze into an economic moment now past as reflected in the intimate, interior world of that era's girl culture.
Installing Zine World at the LA Art Book Fair.
Zine Masters of the Universe
Phil Aarons (collector and Board President, Printed Matter), AA Bronson (Director, LA and NY Art Book Fairs) and Darin Klein (curator, Bedwetter and Beyond: The Complete Book Works of Christopher Russell and GSD: Skate Fate Till Today) reveal the inner workings of the impassioned 'zine collector's mind.
4:00 - 5:50 pm, Ahmanson Auditorium (MOCA Grand Ave)
Lent Felt: A Valedictory Lecture on the Life and Work of Mike Kelley, John C. Welchman
Artist, noise musician, writer, actor, benefactor, teacher, and Catholic misfit, Mike Kelley was a wholehearted and cantankerous sage with an indelible blue collar background. Wired in to the elemental stakes of the American vernacular, during certain on-song weeks Kelley generated enough ideas and imaginings to last another sort of artist an entire career. Welchman’s talk will explore some of the creatively recursive themes and materials in Kelley's art and writing. These will include the unstoppable gusts of irony and humor that storm through his work; his fraught relation to religion and the beyond; his career-long obsession with the contradictory conditions of his formation and unsettled selfhood; and the discrepant optics of bathos, dejection, and lowness through which he so often saw things through—and saw through things.
1:00 - 1:50 pm, Mezzanine Theater
CERTAINTY OF HOPELESSNESS: A PRIMER ON DISCHARGING STUDENT LOAN DEBT by Christopher Glazek and Sean Monahan
Student debt cannot be erased through the normal bankruptcy process. Most people believe it’suseless to even try, but nearly half of all student debtors who initiate discharge proceedings get some or all of their student loans forgiven. All you have to do is prove “certainty of hopelessness”. After the event, attendees will be invited to complete discharge application at the Paper Chase Press booth, which will be submitted to the LA County Courthouse the following Monday morning.
4:00 - 4:50 pm, Mezzanine Theater
Art Between the Cracks: Sylvere Lotringer in conversation with Anton Vidokle
Let's stop worrying about becoming professionals. Instead, let's engage with the cultural field as passionate hobbyists, talented amateurs, dedicated tinkerers. Let's be part-time artists who, out of pleasure or necessity, excel in innumerable other capacities to support an art practice. Teaching and education carry a great potential for emancipation, but in recent years art education has grown into an industrial machine, a ponzi scheme that puts artists into debt with the promise of securing professional careers that may or may not even exist. Maybe publishing books or a small journal can provide another way to become involved in a certain quality of art education that can still be emancipatory.
(As a shameless plug amendment, go see Artists on Artist's Books on Friday at 3pm, put on by the Art Book Review, which I am proudly a volunteer co-founder.)
(Image on top: Zines Mate , 2009; © LA Art Book Fair)