I spent the last couple of days volunteering at the New York Art Book Fair and I’m pleased to report back that printed matter is alive and thriving. Not just Printed Matter Inc., the artists’ book gallery that sponsors the event—although it’s still flourishing at its handsome space in Manhattan—but the whole of it: art and photography books, zines, journals, catalogs, broadsides, chapbooks, monographs, and a whole lot of work that defies easy description.
The fair, held at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, hosts over 200 exhibitors from all over the world, along with screenings, signings, and special events, and it’s free—you can drop a few bucks on a beautiful work of literary art without breaking the bank entirely. Participants range from established publishers (Drawn and Quarterly, Princeton Architectural Press) to high-end art presses to a tent full of zine-makers in the courtyard. Also hot dogs. Also beer.
Some random exhibitors I lingered over: Conundrum Press (Canada), Coracle, (Ireland), Pork Salad Press (Denmark), Fukt Magazine (Germany), Lubok Verlag (Germany), REDFOXPRESS (Ireland), Steidl + Mack (U.K.). I couldn’t keep away from the Piracy Project room, with its shelves of repurposed books, “creating a platform to innovatively explore the spectrum of copying / re-editing / translating / paraphrasing / imitating / re-organising / manipulating of already existing works.” And of course there are the regrets: I should have bought a signed copy of Ed Panar’s excellent Animals That Saw Me, and I will dream about Mack Books’ Oceanomania, one of the most gorgeous volumes I’ve seen in ages. But I came home with a couple of little gems from Ugly Duckling Presse, Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch’s Ten Walks/Two Talks and the lovely (really) Classification of a Spit Stain.
But honestly, everything there is fun, interesting, weird, and exciting. It’s still going on all day Sunday, and if you’re anywhere near the neighborhood I highly suggest you drop by for a couple of hours—the New York Art Book Fair is a circus for your eyes, with some of the weekend’s best people-watching thrown in.