The NY Art Book Fair Is A Whole Scene

The NY Art Book Fair Is A Whole Scene

I've always wanted to be someone who reads art books. Unfortunately, the extent of my attention and the general lack of tolerance for vague amusement in the art world usually only allows me to read the book before inevitably deviating from what I call a "radical" in a catalog, show, or intentionally blank page. intervention. "Here's the great thing about the New York Art Book Fair (NYABF): it takes the perfect from the platonic category (the luminosity! First edition is rare!") and turns it into itself, leaving plenty of room for the wild and the weird. .

This Sunday, October 16, the beloved print book fair will be held once again at the historic venue where it was first held in 2006, one block from the Chelsea Library. From a "Zine Zaddy" baseball cap to a recurring tote bag emblazoned with "Books," last night's opening was all over the place, or as an attendee who didn't want to name it pointed out: "I'm just for people." I came to spy.

I wander through the crowds with the same thought that comes to mind every year, which is: I can't believe so many people come to the art book fair. I was nostalgic for the old fairgrounds, the high ceilings of the MoMA PS1 and the atmosphere of the school. Thankfully, the mood inside Chelsea wasn't quite the same as a party in the East Village (especially since the weather on the fourth floor turns out to be sweltering and snowy). Armed with a fast shutting iPhone and a wet umbrella, I set out to search for the best stories, not the best books.

Poet Jane Fisher, who shares a table with F Magazine, has been selling books on the sidewalks of A Street in Manhattan, near the bumpy St. Mark's Street, for eight years. “The street is different because there are no walls, so anyone has a chance to run into it,” Fisher told me. “It becomes an open-air library. There you can show someone a book, and they will not read it. He holds a copy of the collection of poems by René Ricard. “Everyone here is already interested.

It's a very different audience than the one at NYABF, which bore relentless spray and sweaty lines across the building to promise titles like Grandma Presbree's Bottle Village , a book about a popular artist named Teresa Presbree who collected over 17,000 pencils and spanned 60 years. Aging has created an environment of submerged bottles in Southern California. It's gorgeous, it's beautiful, everything I'd expect from an art book!

In fact, some of my favorite elements of the show deviated a bit from the genre. Unsurprisingly, he was drawn to a selection of $2 postcards made by the owners of Boekie Woekie, a bookshop run by Dutch artists. (The sale of this postcard alone seems to cover their entire monthly rent, so I'm going to move to Holland.) Among the other highlights of the evening: Toilet Go Go! , a collection of illustrations of Japanese public restrooms by Hidefumi Nakamura, courtesy of Handshake Books. And at the table of Los Sumergidos Mexican collective in New York, I discovered the genius of Alejandro Cartagena, who collected black and white photos of workers forced into an embarrassing corporate dinner and compiled them under the totally blasphemous title " We Love ." Workers (2019). Another Cartagena gem, described by the receptionist as an "interesting" collection of archival shots, is a sealed box that looks like a four-by-five package of old Kodak negatives, which were expressly given to me forbidden to open. , but I was ordered to keep the record for the first nude scene in Mexican cinema.

In the Coraini Edzioni Pavilion, I discovered children's books by Milanese artist Bruno Munari (whose work is now on display at the Center for Contemporary Italian Art in Soho). Disillusioned with the tempting offerings in the literary world of young readers, Munari began producing children's books in 1945, bringing his art and interest in between. Among them is an innovative series known as Prelibri , which are small, textless "primary books" made of felt, wood, paper and other materials, which are designed as a first introduction to the children's reading process.

"If you are very young and can't read, you can use it," Pietro Coraini told me in a very charming Italian accent. "It was designed just to get you used to the contents of the book." As a 31-year-old without children with an alarming number of parental friends, I asked the price: $200. I frowned.

"That's because it's made in Italy," Corini explained superbly.

In a typical art gallery, booth visitors chat with anyone who seems ready to pick up a painting or two. But at NYABF, everyone I interacted with was friendly, hospitable, and eager to talk to me about their magazines, haiku sets, artist-made T-shirts, and mega-art theory, long before I even said I was a journalist. Someone from Werkplats Typografie gave me an apple as a "gesture" from their smart booth, which was innovatively designed to recreate the fruit market in Kardessler Groenete west of Amsterdam.

On the fourth floor and upstairs, I was drawn to a small handwritten poster that read "Celebrating the Death of NEA, Public Funding, and Art As We Know It". It was part of Allied Productions' slate of exhibitions spanning more than 40 years of transitional activism and resistance, highlighting LGBTQ+ and multi-generational voices.

"After the second Reagan administration, we realized organizations like ours across the country were losing money," explained Jack Waters, co-founder. Waters and his collaborator Peter Kramer founded ABC No Rio Gallery and Magazine Library on the Lower East Side in the 1980s, something more involved, like misogyny and racism. This was the beginning of the so-called culture war."

Allied Productions' main focus now is Le Petit Versailles, a community garden and performance space in a former auto repair shop in Manhattan. Speaking to Waters humbly noted that many of the companies and individuals at the show—from small print shops to magazine makers to the multiple locations they seemed to maintain in some way—had had to contend with their fair share of hurdles in an unstable region. Where the world of art and publishing meets.

Whether you prefer to decipher an artist's diary with vague annotations or stack three or four studies on the coffee table to intimidate diners, we all agree that art books provide special solace and joy. But what is a fiction book ? I'm not sure this show helped me get closer to the definition. And for that I am grateful.

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