May 2008, Book It! @ New Langton Arts

 New Langton Arts, San Francisco, Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Notes on Book It!
New Langton Arts, San Francisco
3 May 2008

A compulsion, a need to document the contemporary world, coupled with a love of the forms of collection and binding: this is the driving force present in the offerings of the Book It! Fair of alternative creative publishing. From the academic 1960s-Conceptual throwback magazine InterReview to the irreverence of Kottie Paloma’s marker and tape book “I Need A Job Please,” the participants’ perspectives, activities, and general aesthetic methodologies were indeed diverse. Whitehot Magazine was, interestingly, the only virtual publication present, and the only table not presenting merchandise for sale; the implications of which were explored in the panel discussion’s treatment of the art magazine genre’s function as alternative space.

The booth for Skank Bloc Bologna and Veronica de Jesus, Photo by Jennifer Leighton

WM Editor in Chief Noah Becker at the Whitehot Magazine Booth, Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Courtennay Finn and Whitehot Magazine writer Kate Phillimore at the Golden Guns Investigations booth,
Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Book It! Visitors, Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Panelist Gwen Allen, an art historian, introduced this concept as she reviewed the brief history of art serial publications: opening with notes on ArtForum’s humble origin in the mid ‘60’s as a San Francisco-based alternative to the mainstream New York art press and tracing back to Marcel Duchamp’s project to commandeer magazine space with the publication Blindman, her presentation illuminated the power of the page-space and highlighted the new interrelationships between artist, spectator, gallerist, and critical authorities made possible therein. Ginger Wolfe-Suarez, the founder, publisher, and editor of InterReview, picked up this thread, citing the Conceptual art movement of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s as the influence and impetus for her creation of a paper space for intergenerational conversations about art. “I take discourse very seriously,” she said to the panel, a bit in the manner of the instructrice. Her curation of the printed publication seemed inherently linked to her sense of historicity and desire to monumentalize the buzz centering around the Conceptual happenings of a past era, both of which mark the magazine as a serial alternative to the mainstream art press’s concern for the cutting edge of contemporary art.

If, in Wolfe-Suarez’s case, the term “alternative” referred to the subject matter of the publication, it was articulated to mean something completely different in regards to Whitehot Magazine. Noah Becker, the following panelist, qualified his publication as being not necessarily about alternative or outsider culture, but rather as a re-enfranchisement of the alternative perspectives of a global array of writers via art media. “Alternative is used against certain people to draw a line between inside and outside,” he explained, indicating the responsibility necessary to evade the negative application of such a label. His focal point was the issue of information and its relationship to present realities. In addition to constructing a network of documentation of today’s happenings in the art world, the magazine’s aim is to create an interchange of perspectives, which are equally informative about the contemporary state of being.

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez, baby Inigo, and New Langton Arts' Sam Spiewak at the InterReview and New Langton Arts booths,
Photo by Jennifer Leighton

The Panel Discussion, from left to right James K. Tantum, Noah Becker, Ginger Wolf-Suarez, Gwen Allen and Sam Spiewak,
Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Ryan Arthurs at the Gallery 16 booth, Photo by Jennifer Leighton

Fred Rinne and Kottie Paloma at the Booklyn Booth, photo by Jennifer Leighton

As the discussion drew to a close, the disparities in medium, or type of space, arising between the works of the panelists saw themselves reconciled by an ultimate similarity in function: documentation. Whether it be a record of a past moment in the development of contemporary art and a commemoration of its continuing legacy in the minds and methods of artists, or a virtual space where the most current of realities may be presented and represented by individuals of various global perspectives and experience; whether it be in the monumentalized hard copy form or the more intangible fluxus of internet form; the artistic publication’s existence will be tied to our ways of processing, protecting, and proffering information about our realities. A precious little seems more human than that.

Mallory Farrugia, LA

Mallory Farrugia is a writer in Los Angeles.

view all articles from this author