Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
February 12 – 14, 2016
The Directors of Royal NoneSuch Gallery (Liz Bernstein, Dana Hemenway, Zoë Taleporos, and Sarah Thibault) went down to LA to check out this year’s Los Angeles Art Book Fair held at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. For those that didn’t make it, we offer our takeaways. (Photo credit for all images: Royal NoneSuch Gallery)
Sarah: Let’s go around the table and everyone is going to say what they bought, what they liked and any celebrity sightings.
Dana: I liked Hassla, which had a book by Robin Cameron, Who You, I See (2014), which consisted of photogram faces with descriptions of the person next to it. I wish I had bought it, but I didn’t. I’m having regret. FOMO. Just in general their table was interesting. Their theme was artists who used portraiture and faces in the books that they published.
There were a lot of pins. I got a pin from Diagonal Press.
I liked Archive Books from Berlin. I got a book from them called Subsidy (2015) that accompanied an eponymous exhibition from 2015. I also spent some time at the Sternberg Press table and happily picked up In the Holocene (2015), a book about how artists investigate scientific principles and phenomenon. For laughs, I grabbed I like your work: art and etiquette (2009) by Paper Monument. Lastly, to hold everything, I grabbed a black on black Women Wimmin Womin Womyn tote from OtherWild.
Liz: Ok, most importantly, celebrity sightings: BJ Novak ate a taco at my picnic table. Kim Gordon walked past us and her butt looked amazing in her jean shorts.
I bought four photo books from Aperture, which made me feel a little bit guilty since they aren’t part of the indie scene—more an old guard in photo publishing, but in terms of photo essays- amazing. I got a book by Charlotte Cotton on the new landscape called Photography is Magic (2015). I also bought Photography Changes Everything (2012) by Marvin Heiferman, The Photographer’s Playbook (2014) from Aperture, and a monograph by Thomas Demand. I was so excited to own Photography Changes Everything that I practically licked the cover. Each chapter starts with the title “Photography changes…” then basically goes through a history of all human thought and behavior. For example “Photography changes what and who we desire,” and “Photography changes what we expect reality to look like,” and on and on. Photo nerd heaven.
Sarah: As Liz mentioned, we saw Kim Gordon first thing when we arrived at the fair. It proved to be a good omen since she was essentially the patron saint of the LAABF with multiple irons in the fire throughout the weekend. Among her projects she had curated a record collection for Gagosian’s booth, which included a piece by Rita Ackermann that I wish I had bought. But instead I got Katy Siegel’s ‘The heroine Paint’ After Frankenthaler (2015), which I’ve been coveting for a while on Amazon and was more in my price point. We unfortunately missed Gordon’s surprise performance with Body / Head. We did catch the earlier programming by Kill Your Idols that showcased a younger generation of bands clearly influenced by Sonic Youth—the band Nani was one of the standouts with a fiery lead singer.
My favorite thing I bought is a small joke book, Wolfe-arama: Jokes from Ira (2014), that I got from a press in Brooklyn called Ratstar. The book originated from their neighbor, Ira Wolfe who, when they first moved in asked for their email addresses, then started emailing them five times a day with jokes that he made up. Since the publishers copied each email in full, the jokes include the idiosyncrasies of his original message. They are full of grammatical mistakes, puns and often pure absurdity—my favorite kind of humor. A classic example is: “Where do you keep a porcupine crossed with a pig?in a quill pen!have a great weekend!”
My other purchases include a book by the Amy Bessone, The League of Divorced Women (2015), which features photographs of divorced women from the 1930s-70s and a description of their circumstances. I also really liked Hassla’s table that Dana mentioned. I got a monotype of Dan McCarthy’s sculptural work called Facepots, discounted on Sunday.
Next to Hassla was a booth from Mexico, Gato Negro Ediciones. I got a copy of this little pink zine that my friend Stephanie Rohlfs had brought back from Material Art Fair last week called The Praise of Laziness (2015) by Mladen Stilinović. It talks about the virtues of mental laziness in a capitalist society. A must read for overworked artists.
We got to the fair on the early end so we maxed out around 2pm, but not before I got a chance to flirt with BJ Novak who apparently had just been eating tacos with Liz. From there we left for the Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market hosted by LAND, which in contrast had a jam band, dogs running around, a range of artist wares, and second hand clothing. We missed a lot because we came on Sunday afternoon, but it looked like there were more interactive stations like Mr. Let’s Paint’s painting booth. I bought a surrealist hand mug from these two wonderful people, Scoli Acosta and Alison O’Daniels. Their booth included a wooden sculpture of a multi-color pen displayed in a bell jar, 70’s-style yarn art, and thrift store items recast in bronze.
Zoe: My favorite purchase of the day was a book called Weird Fucks (2015) by Lynne Tillman that was being sold at Eve Fowler’s table by New Herring Press. It’s a reprint of a book that Tillman wrote in 1980, and was the first longer novella of hers that chronicles her sexual exploits with men. The woman that sold it to me explained it as a precursor to Chris Kraus’ 1997 I Love Dick or some of the work that Lena Dunham is doing that talks frankly about women’s sexual experiences, but blends the autobiographical with fiction.
I also got lost in some of the tables that had a lot of ephemera from the 1970s—seeing lots of out-of-print exhibition catalogues and exhibition posters was really exciting. They were really expensive so I couldn’t buy anything, but they were fun to look at and dork out about with some of the people at the tables and booths. I also had a bit of FOMO going on because I was spending so much time in certain areas that I felt like I had to hurry up and get through the rest of the fair. I spent a bit of time in the zine area, which was the most exciting part of the fair. I was less interested in the more established publishers or galleries and I was really interested in what the DIYers were doing. I got this printed little zine called Waves of Feminism (2015) by Mixed Greens, which is a collaboration between Emma Berliner and Amanda Scharf that has quotes from leaders from each wave of feminism and a corresponding illustration of women surfing to represent those waves.