Saturday, June 20, 2015

OFFPRINT LONDON - more photobooks than you have ever seen...

Running parallel to Photo London, OFFPRINT LONDON took over Tate Modern's Turbine Hall for 4 days in May. From small beginnings in a Paris school hall in 2010 Yannick Bouillis' OFFPRINT book fair has become a runaway success. As book distribution becomes more and more difficult and technology changes make book production easier than ever OFFPRINT provides a very real platform to get bookworks seen and into peoples hands. What's more, the book-fair platform provides artists with a relatively democratic space where authenticity and independence can be maintained free from most marketplace demands.

Offprint Projects describe their approach... is a traveling art publishing fair featuring discerning projects across a wide range of media. The 2015 London fair includes books, zines, vinyls, posters, prints, websites, magazines, and blogs from over 140 participants in the fields of contemporary art, graphic design, literature, poetry, philosophy, and experimental music. In collaboration with Tate Modern and curator Simon Baker, Offprint London dedicates a special space for photobooks, inviting independent photobook publishers from all over the world. Acknowledging a dissolving effect of traditional sites and media (museums / books / schools) and their respective activities (curating / publishing / teaching), Offprint showcases an alliance between printed strategies and digital cultures within the art world, presenting concrete examples of the contemporary dissemination of artistic practices.

It was good to see Bruno Ceschel's Self Publish, Be Happy running a super-active project space at OFFPRINT. The space hosted numerous quirky, oddball events. Described as a call to action its aim was to inspire visitors to make books by playing with different photographic and printing processes. The project space hosted workshops, performances, a bookshop, and a screening room. There was also be a speaker's corner, where visitors had  the opportunity to talk about the books they love. Hand-in-hand with the SPBH ethos the space was made entirely of readymade materials, with 300 plastic containers forming the walls. A fun (yes it was) multifunctional environment.

With over 140 participants offering a mind boggling range of material - zines, books. posters, prints, magazines... all crammed onto tables in Tate's Turbine Hall, the head spun and it became difficult to get down to and find works that resonated. I found myself going to publishers I knew and looking at their fresh material. Perhaps a cop-out on my behalf but I discovered that I wasn't the only one feeling that the event needed some some of clarifying curatorial overview. I'm not knocking what Yannick has achieved, it's special and amazing. I just think he has got a tiger-by-the-tail and now has to think seriously about what's next.

Here are a few of the participants I particularly like:

Mörel Books, always interesting always demanding. Their JH Engstrom limited edition ALWAYS was worth the price of admission alone.

GOST, founded by Gordon MacDonald and Stuart Smith has great material. With Clare Strand and Mark Power on their list what more do you want.

NOBODY, Stephen Gill's own imprint is a mine of risk taking publications. Never any disappointment here.

Self Publish, Be Happy, Bruno Ceschel publishes Lucas Blalock one of my favorite photographers. He do can do wrong.

SUPER LABO, Yasunori Hoki's idiosyncratic list of superbly crafted books always amazes and Antoine d'Agata is a must. I admit a little bias here.

You can watch the above vimeo presentation, the BJP talks to Yannick Bouillis and Bruno Ceschel, HERE.

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