“this book was incredible or wonderful” – Overview of BABS talk at PS, with performance by Alan Resnick

On Saturday, September 20, 2013, Blonde Art Books hosted an event as a part of the Classroom Series at the New York Art Book Fair at MOMA P.S.1. The event, titled Art Book Roadshow, Blonde Art Books Summer Tour 2013, invited select artists, publishers, writers, and curators to discuss their individual projects as well as their experiences with the Blonde Art Books Tour.

Below is brief overview of that afternoon, some images from the talk, and details for Alan Resnick’s publication $8.95, A guide to avoiding bank fees and chatting online, which is now available at Blonde Art Books.

The event began with a brief description of the tour by Blonde Art Books’ founder Sonel Breslav. With a projection of rotating images from the tour as the backdrop, Breslav introduced the panelists, gave a synopsis of the programs that took place in each of the eight cities, and proposed initial questions around the intentions of the project. Following this introduction the each guest elaborated on their participation in each of the tour events and gave a description of their own publishing-based projects.

Maia Asshaq, one of the founders of DittoDitto, a small artist run press in Detroit, Michigan, talked about some of the books she has published over the years, many of which are produced using recycled and renewed materials. Some of the books she mentioned were on view at the Blonde Art Books tour event in Detroit, which took place at Salt & Cedar, a letterpress studio in Eastern Market. Recently, she helped organize Detroit’s first annual Art Book Fair, which took place in early in October 2013. The fair was the first of its kind in Detroit, and featured over 20 small presses and individual artists from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and New York.

Lauren Van Haaften – Schick, an independent curator based in New York, talked about a number of recent and forthcoming curatorial and publishing projects she has been working on as well as her participation in two of the tour events – the first being the tour launch at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn where she did a reading alongside Nat Otting, and the second, at Furthermore in DC, where she did a more formal slideshow presentation of her on-going project titled “Non-Participation,” an investigation which began while she was still working on her exhibition “Canceled” at The Center for Book Arts (now traveling to a number of galleries and museums throughout the country). “Non-Participation” is a growing collection of letters that are submitted by artists and curators stating their decisions not to participate in a specific exhibition, event, or project.

Although she was not directly involved in the Blonde Art Books tour, we were so lucky to have met Sarah Williams in Detroit. She had organized a weekend long book-centric exhibition at an artist studio / performance space called the Jam Handy Building, and it happened to be taking place on the same weekend as Blonde Art Books event at Salt & Cedar. Williams’ exhibition, On the Road, had called for submissions of independently published books by artists from all around the Midwest. The connection between Williams’ interests and the intentions of the Blonde Art Books tour was clear as well was their mutual interest in learning more about self-publishing artists from the region as well as the ideas around books in relation to travel.  Williams is based in LA where she co-founded The Art Book Review, a webzine that publishes reviews of art books as well as books on topics such as art history, art theory, and art criticism.

Pittsbugh based writer and artist Daniel McCloskey detailed his experiences creating The Cyperpunk Apocalypse, an organization that strives to facilitate the process of writers and comic artists in Pittsburgh. During the discussion, he mentioned that he found Blonde Art Books’ approach of reaching out beyond local publishers interesting, as his first inclination was to build a creative site in Pittsburgh so that people would travel to the space in order to produce work and engage with like-minded artists. We were very happy to have learned about his project through the tour and have him participate in the event at the Mattress Factory. His presence alongside Spaces Corners and Encyclopedia Destructica were incredible examples of the diversity of art publishing in Pittsburgh.

As part of the presentation, artist Alan Resnick, who we met in Baltimore performed a piece relating to his book $8.95.