Friday, November 17, 2017

John Hiltunen

John Hiltunen
John Hiltunen
New York City, USA: Books For All Press, 2016
96 pp., 8.875 x 8.25", softcover
Edition of 500

Carolyn Schoerner founded Books For All Press (BFA), a not-for-profit organization working with artists with developmental disabilities, after working at Printed Matter and White Columns. Matthew Higgs, her colleague at the latter, introduced her to Creative Growth in Oakland, California, which he has called "without reservation the most important cultural organization I have ever encountered.”

The Creative Growth Art Center is the oldest and largest art center in the world for people with developmental disabilities. Sturgis, Kentucky artist John Hiltunen has been attending Creative Growth for almost fifteen years. He initially made textiles, ceramics, and woodwork, but after participating in Paul Butler’s Collage Party in 2007, collage became a "consistent artistic pursuit."

This is his first artist book, and it continues his interest in combining animals from natural history magazines with outfits from fashion mags.

John Hiltunen can be purchased from the publisher for $30.00 US here, or from Creative Growth, here. The latter also stocks a wallet by Hiltunen and a deck of playing cards.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cut Up or Shut Up

[Jan Herman, editor]
Cut Up or Shut Up
Paris, France: Editions Agentzia, 1972
80 pp., 12 x 30 cm., soft cover
Edition size unknown

Edited by Jan Herman (editor of the Nova Broadcast Press and the later years of the Something Else Press) this collection features essays on culture, media, and the future of creativity by Herman, Jurgen Ploog, and Carl Weissner with commentary by William S. Burroughs in the form of a ‘Tickertape’ which runs at the top of each page throughout the book. A dust jacket (not available on all issues?) by Wolf Vostell features a Décollage from the Tour de Vanves series from 1956.

A copy signed and dated by Jan Herman is available for $80.00, here, or signed by William Burroughs, here, for 175 GBP.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Five on Fiche

[Richard Truhlar, ed]
Five on Fiche
Toronto, Canada: Underwhich Editions, 1980
6 x 4 1/8"
Edition of 250

"the contributors are Michael Dean, Brian Dedora, John Riddell, Steven Smith & Truhlar. anyone with an old 'fiche reader stashed in their walk-in closet? excited by the low cost of production of a single microprint acetate rather than an 84pp book, Truhlar plotted a series of such anthologies (it was to've been followed by Langscapes, an anthology of concrete/visual poetry coëdited with Riddell) but the idea petered out in the face of sparse orders: if people were going to have to go to a library to read it, let the library order it (few did)."

Niki de Saint Phalle | Nana

Niki de Saint Phalle
New York City, USA: Marlo Plastics, 1968
109.98 x 100.08 cm.
Edition size unknown

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Closer Things Are

Shannon Anderson and Jay Wilson
The Closer Things Are
Waterloo/Sackville/Halifax/Lethbridge, Canada: UWAG, Owen's Art Gallery, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, 2017
62 pp., 21.5 x 15 cm, softcover
Edition size unknown

Edited by Shannon Anderson and beautifully designed by Jay Wilson, this slim volume documents their co-curatorial project, which debuted in September at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery and travels to three other venues over the next year.

The exhibition features projects by Kathleen Hearn, Ève K. Tremblay, Laura Letinsky, Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky, Luke Painter, Chris Kline, Roula Partheniou as well as Micah Lexier in collaboration with both Partheniou and myself (separately).

"The Closer Together Things Are explores the space between difference and similarity that arises from intense observation and consideration. It focuses on the proximity of time, heredity, frottage, palette, concept and presentation. Under close scrutiny, the most mundane objects and situations can compel us, drawing our full attention. The more we look, the more variations surface; differences arise from things that once seemed identical, and sameness arises from things that once seemed unrelated. This exploration of nearness guides how the artworks interact with one another through proximity, mirroring, repetition and reinterpretation. Strange bedfellows are made and unforeseen connections arise. The Closer Together Things Are takes stock of how little we need to see in order to feel like we’ve seen these things before, only this time more clearly."
- Press release

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Yoko Ono | COLOR, FLY, SKY

Yoko Ono, Jon Hendricks
Roskilde, Denmark: Museet for Samtidskunst, 1992.
[47] pp., 20.5 x 21 x 3 cm., boxed loose leaves
Edition size unknown

Edited by curator Jon Hendricks on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde, this boxed work contains forty-five cardboard sheets and two pamphlets. These reproduce texts, scores and conceptual works by Ono, as well as photographic stills from her 1970 film Fly.

In 2011, the work sold at auction for €190.00, against an estimate of between €100.00 and €150.00.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mike Nelson | Cloak

Mike Nelson
Rome, Italy: Nero Publishing, 2016
168 pp., 17 x 22.5 cm., hardcover
Edition of 500

The deep blue colour Ultramarine is a pigment originally made by grinding the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli into a powder. It was the most expensive blue used by Renaissance painters, frequently employed for the robes of the Virgin Mary, in works by Masaccio, Pietro Perugino and others. Vermeer also made extensive use of ultramarine in his paintings, perhaps most notably in Girl with a Pearl Earring. 

Last year Mike Nelson painted every single room in the United Bank of Switzerland in Monaco using (presumably the newer synthetic) Ultramarine. The UBS building (2 Avenue de Grande Bretagne) was closed for renovation at the time, allowing Nelson access to all seven floors. Every detail was covered in the pigment that was once more valuable than gold.

Presented by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Nelson's project explored notions of economic value and luxury goods, both of which are closely associated with the city-state of Monaco.   The work also nods to Yves Klein (whose International Klein Blue is very close to ultramarine) and David Hammons' Concerto in Black and Blue (which used blue light to similar effect).

Visitors entered the immersive environment and were led through the rooms up to the sun-bleached rooftop terrace, where they were offered a respite from the hallucinogenic claustraphobic blue rooms, before being reimmersed for the trip back down.

Nero Publishing's elegant document of the project is printed with a custom offset plates separation (cyan+black+reflex blue) that beautifully translates the ultramarine blue used by Nelson in the installation. The only instances of non-blue in the book (which features an all-blue dust jacket) are presented as fold out pages.

Cloak is available from the publishers, here. It is also available in the UK at and at Tender Books.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Roula Partheniou | Desk Set

Roula Partheniou
Desk Set
Toronto, Canada: Paul + Wendy Projects, 2014
3.75 x 5.5 x 1.25" (stacked)
Edition of 25 signed and numbered copies

A wooden eraser sits atop a wooden stack of post-it notes which sits atop a wooden notebook. The edition has sold out but a variation is currently being produced as part of the special edition of Partheniou's forthcoming monograph, Inventory (Black Dog Books, 2018).

Listen to Partheniou discuss objects and the replica (alongside Hito Steyerl and Helen Hester) in a podcast from the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, here.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Ronin Furdyk | Twenty-Four Composers

Ronin Furdyk
Twenty-Four Composers
Toronto, Canada: Perish Publishing, 2016
[26] pp., 14 x 14 cm., staple-bound
Edition size unknown

The sweetest purchase I made at the Edition Toronto fair last month, with easily the best artist biography: "Ronin is nine years old and lives in Calgary."

Furdyk has had a fascination with the symphony since the age of three, recreating the orchestra with his stuffed animals after attending a concert. This square booklet (Mr Men sized?) contains only a  small sampling from his hundreds of related drawings. The book features portraits of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Satie and nineteen others, as well as a drawing of the performing orchestra.

Now a teenager, Ronin is reportedly a Foo Fighters fan.

Available for $10 as a poster or a book, (or $15 for both), from the publisher, here.

Stewart Brand | Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?

Stewart Brand, who turns 79 next month, is an American writer, best known as editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. His books include the brilliant How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built (1994) and The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility. The latter documents his efforts with the Long Now Foundation (which he co-founded with Danny Hillis) to create a timepiece that will operate with minimum human intervention for ten millennia. The plan is for the clock to tick once a year and have a cuckoo that comes out every millennium.

Brand's focus has always been the bigger picture, the wider perspective.

The Whole Earth Catalog was a counterculture magazine published by Brand several times a year between 1968 and 1972. The influential periodical featured essays and articles, but was primarily focused on reviews for ecologically minded products.

The magazine took its name from a 1966 campaign waged by Brand to have NASA release the then-only-rumored satellite photo of the sphere of Earth as seen from space. He had recalled a lecture by Buckminster Fuller where the architect and theorist suggested that "people perceived the earth as flat and infinite, and that that was the root of all their misbehaviour."

Brand had studied biology at Stanford and believed that the image of the planet might be a powerful symbol, "evoking a sense of shared destiny and adaptive strategies from people." Brand was also a member of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, and decided to lobby countries with space programs for the release of the photograph, using counter-culture tactics:

"How could I induce NASA or the Russians to finally turn the cameras backwards?  We could make a button!  A button with the demand “Take a photograph of the entire earth.”  No, it had to be made a question.  Use the great American resource of paranoia…  “Why haven’t they made a photograph of the entire earth?”  There was something wrong with “entire.”  Something wrong with “they.”

“Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?”  Ah.  That was it.

The next day I ordered the printing of several hundred buttons and posters.  While they were being made I spent a couple hours in the San Francisco library looking up the names and addresses of all the relevant NASA officials, the members of Congress and their secretaries, Soviet scientists and diplomats, UN officials, Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller.

When the buttons were ready I sent them off.  Then I prepared a Da-Glo sandwich boardwith a little sales shelf on the front, decked myself out in a white jump suit, boots and costume top hat with crystal heart and flower, and went to make my debut at the Sather Gate of the University of California in Berkeley, selling my buttons for twenty-five cents."

The buttons reportedly made their way to the lapels of many NASA employees and the organization released an image the following year. Fifty years later, it's impossible to fathom the profound cultural and social impact of first seeing ourselves from a distance. The planet as seemingly small and fragile. The release of the photograph has been cited as "the birth of the environmental movement".

Brand featured the image of the first issue of his magazine a year later:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

bpNichol | Still Water

bp Nichol
Still Water
Vancouver, Canada: Talon Books, 1970
[28] pp., 14 x 14 cm., boxed
Edition size unknown

At the age of 26, bp Nichol won the  Governor General’s Award for poetry, for four titles released that year: The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid*, Beach Head, The Cosmic Chef, and Still Water. The elegant minimal design of the latter reflects its contents: many of the poems consist only of a single word, with slight typographical alterations. The 'o' and the 'u' in the word 'clouds', for example, is replaced by a series of open and closed parentheses. 'plop' is shown to be the reflection of "blob". Another page contains only the letters 'em ty'. A double dotted 'i' predates Nicol's collaborator Steve McCaffery's similar portrait of William Tell (who improves the work by identifying it as the shortest novel ever written).

The boxed loose leaves prevent the poems from being read in a particular sequence, and it's semi-reflective cover perfectly evokes the title. A second edition was released, omitting the author and publisher's names from the cover. It can be viewed at jw curry's flickr site, here.

Ohio concrete poet Endwar/Andrew Russ produced a reverent homage twenty years later called Distilled Water under the pen name of Stuart Pid (ah, get it?). A decade after that, in 2000, Paloin Biloid (Will Napoli) released Water Detail, a response to both.

*Nichol noted later that his portion of the GG Award (which he shared with author Michael Ondaatje) was the same amount as the original ransom for Billy the Kid.

"Visual artist and poet Robert Fones, who has made his own contribution to the use of language in works of visual art, recalls Nichol speaking in the early '70s of an interest in the relationship between the line in poetry and the line in drawing. That interest found expression through what is almost a subgenre in Nichol's oeuvre, the verbal-landscape visual poem, where the lines of the poem announce the words for landscape objects (or state the landscape elements) at the point on the page where drawn lines would be placed in a pictorial depiction of those objects or elements. Greg Curnoe (another artist who worked with language in visual art) used a similar device in his paintings, where he sometimes incorporated verbal descriptions within painted depictions. While the two artists were familiar with each other's work, and Nichol once cited Curnoe in a commentary on his own work, the connection in this regard is parallel rather than derivative, with each artist making distinctive use of a related technique.

Nichol's Still Water contains several typeset instances of his working of the effect. One of these has the word "moon" towards the top left of the page, "owl" some distance down and to the right, and a little less further down, spaced widely apart on one line, the thrice-repeated word "tree," followed by "shadowy." In another poem, the word "tree" appears on three staggered lines above the phrase "the train leaves," with the word "leaves" repeated on three well-spaced lines. Nichol effected a still closer fusion of the drawn and the poetic line in "landscape: 1" in Zygal. Typeset across the middle of the page is a line that is transformed into a horizon by there being set right above it the words, with no spaces between them, "along the horizon grew an unbroken line of trees." Nichol returned frequently to depictions of horizons with lines or words in typeset or pen drawings. He worked an elegantly punning turn on this in a hand-drawn poem rendered in fabric by his wife, Ellie Nichol: about a third of the way up, a line is stitched, at whose left side occurs a large arc that, through the placement of the word "risin"' at the other end of the line, becomes the top portion of both an "O" and the orb of the sun, with the line now a horizon."

Download the PDF at the bpNichol archive, here

Monday, November 6, 2017

Joachim Schmid | ¥€$

Joachim Schmid
Berlin, Germany: Self-published, 2016
48 pp., 14.8 x 10.5 cm, softcover, sewn
Edition of 100

"Artists’ books come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I prefer the ones that are conceptually striking, not made for the sake of craft. Usually these are simple, small, and cheap. Often I wonder about the economy of artists’ books. We work and make and publish books in small editions, and then we sell them at reasonable prices. How does this work? This book explains in detail how artists make (or lose) money with self-published books. The book comes in two editions: the regular edition that is very affordable and a very limited edition that makes the money."
- Joachim Schmid

Available from Printed Matter, here, for $15.00 US.