The Los Angeles iteration of Printed Matter's Art Book Fair seems a bit more chilled-out than its New York City counterpart, which tends to make MoMA PS1 feel as tightly packed as a Manhattan city block. The multi-day event goes down this coming weekend at the spacious Geffen Contemporary, a branch of the MOCA that uses converted police garages as gallery spaces. These fairs can easily be overstimulating. There's a ton to see and do; Future Brown and Tink are even playing a collaborative set at the Saturday after-party—wtf. To make it easier, one of the fair's two directors—Printed Matter's Shannon Michael Cane—spoke to The FADER about five happenings that he's personally psyched about, including an unearthed Iain Mckell photo book from the '70s and a mural that he thinks is going to "break Instagram."
A retrospective on a zine-making power couple
I imagine that local zine power-couple, Ed and Deanna Templeton, will be a very popular exhibition this year. The Templetons have been publishing books and zines for a couple of decades, but this is the first time [all of their work has been] gathered for an exhibition. It's being presented by Boo-Hooray, with related artworks and reprints of some older, sought-after publications and zines, so there will be things there that people haven't seen before. Ed and Deanna are staples of the LA scene, and they're just total sweethearts. That's the cool thing about this fair: these people show in museums, and you can come here to hang out and meet them. You can be like, "Oh, I made a zine too, you want to do a zine swap?"
A forgotten relic of the British 2 Tone Movement
It's very hard to single out any one book that's being launched at the fair, but this one has become like art-book folklore for me. For a while, I actually didn't even think it existed. Iain McKell's revered Sub Culture book focuses on the UK's "2 Tone" movement during the years 1978-79. It was initially intended as a self-published portfolio for connecting with photo agencies and galleries, and only a small number of the original copies were sold to the public. The rest then sat in Iain's archive while the few in circulation garnered cult status. Sub Culture features shots taken on day-trips to Southend, the streets of East and North London, a squat in Kings Cross, and the cult clothing shop "The Last Resort" on Brick Lane. 26 years after its initial publication, Steve Terry of Wild Life Press has collaborated with him to repackage the last 150 copies ever. The print is beautiful. It's like a flash of history. Steve is going to be selling a small number at the booth.
A local artist's keynote speech
The Contemporary Artists' Books Conference is a dynamic, two-day program focused on emerging practices and debates within art-book culture. The Conference is organized by the CABC Committee, a national group of art library professionals. Frances Stark, from LA, will deliver this year's keynote address. Sadly, I get so busy running the whole thing I don't get to go to many of these. I'm going to try to make time to see Frances' talk for sure. Her work addresses popular culture, sexuality, the anxieties of being an artist, and the mechanisms of the art world, in the world of texts and the world of things. There's a fine line between an "art book" and a book written by an artist. Frances has this way of navigating that.
The race for America's next art-book masterpiece
Book Machine is an ongoing initiative by onestar press connecting emerging graphic designers and public participants through the creation of books. Twenty talented designers from CalArts are matched with twenty registered public participants with book concepts, and they work together to conceive, design, and complete a book project during a three-and-a-half-hour-long work sessions. At the end of the three days, they decide which book is actually going to get published. It's kind of a performance piece; you can see someone sitting at a desk with someone trying to design a book.
Limited-edition works by Printed Matter favorites
Every year, Printed Matter produces new, limited-edition artworks to be sold to benefit the fair, helping to ensure the event remains free. This year, we are very proud to be working with Edie Fake, Allen Ruppersberg, and Cali Thornhill Dewitt. Edie Fake has been stocking us with zines for the last 10 years of Printed Matter. They're comic books made by artists, so they don't have a narrative; they're more abstract. Allen Ruppersberg is a really well-known Californian artist; he's always been on my list of people to work with. He has this photo from 1972 of him standing next to a stack of books. He kindly worked with us in producing this four-and-a-half-foot tall print of it.
Cali Dewitt has become a bit of a book fair superstar; he has a collective called WSSF, which stands for Wall Street Sex Freaks. He has a studio he shares with a bunch of other dudes on Skid Row in L.A. They all make these collaborative zines and T-shirts and books and do exhibitions together. Cali's great; he made a fabricated sign that says "Adult Books," but he also installed this huge mural on the back wall of the space that says "Crying At The Orgy." It looks amazing. It's going to break Instagram.
Lead image by Vaan