well read - New York Art Book Festival
Written by Gregg Henglein
In a 100-year-old school building, international art lovers gather annually to celebrate contemporary creative brilliance at the New York Art Book Festival
What The New York Times has termed a ‘smart, weird, engrossing and beautiful’ endeavour includes discussions with thoughtful talents and vivid page-turning collections you could never appreciate on a Kindle.
??When in 2006 the New York Art Book Fair first launched, it was praised as the rare art show that satisfies both the art aficionado and the art collector, all while providing a venue for less commercially driven endeavours.
??Then, the fair was split in two: one floor of the expo featured pieces of significance to the aforementioned aficionados and collectors. For example, Lightreading, a gallery located in Philadelphia, showed two first edition copies of Camera Work – a scholarly journal published between 1903 and 1917 by artist and curator Alfred Stieglitz, who is largely credited with generating the acceptance of photography as a medium before exhibition venues became widely available. The second floor was more edgy and controversial, simply because it had few restrictions. Anyone wanting to push the envelope of contemporary art could do so and have a home for it – a venue set up by a non-profit organisation known as Printed Matter, now the world’s greatest source for artists’ publications.
??That first fair included 40 exhibitors. This year, the fair will host more than 230 international presses, booksellers, antiquarian dealers, artists, and publishers from 21 countries.??
Perhaps the most exciting draw of the fair isn’t the art available, but the information and education element. Held this year at the Museum of Modern Art PS1 in Queens on November 5–7, the fair includes special project rooms, screenings, book signings, and performances.
Having grown up in Cuba, artist Diango Hernández knew all too well the muting of imagination.? “Before the fall of the Revolution, Cubans had learned to speak in a low voice…inventing a popular jargon made of broken sentences and absurd gestures,” Hernández said. “After the fall, we started thinking again.” Hernández studied Industrial Design in Havana shortly thereafter, but soon realised that what really interested him was artistic?work – solitary work done out of passion, not requirement. For 20 years since, through exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, Hernández has taken observational prowess cultivated by that experience of radical change into an innate ability to weave the everyday into the enhanced, new perspectives on personal stories that tell more than any verbal tale could accomplish.
Losing You Tonight
?This two-volume compilation is born of the tragic killing of Hernández's boarding school roommate the day before graduation. When Hernández weeks later found that roommate’s note, discussing his first passionate encounter with art, Hernández was left considering a school system that concealed one’s individuality. That prompted Hernández's work here, a story woven from everyday objects – functional, technical, and decorative – focused on individual insight and the creative, vivid expression of this deeply moving experience.
Variations: The Architecture Photographs of Jenny Okun?
“Looking at architecture,” Okun has written, ”is like listening to music. Both are dramatic forms that reveal multiple, repeating themes. Above all, both need time.” Be sure to take yours in perusing this collection of Okun’s 25-year career gathering vibrant and multi-layered photographic interpretations of modern and contemporary architecture from around the world. Through Okun’s lens, structures are revealed in essence rather than physical context, elevating the ‘spirit’ of architecture above its use.?
As a collaborative duo, Grönlund and Nisunen use sound, light, and architectural context as their primary material to create sculptural installations and interventions in urban and natural environments. Works-Werke presents 20 of the duo’s projects, contained here on double spreads, accompanied by captions written by the artists. Somewhere between the static and the temporal, their work bridges the waters between sculpture and poetry, telling a complex tale despite the static nature of the subject.
Art can be majestic and sweeping, leaving its viewer awash in sensory excitement. But the reaction can be accomplished through simpler means, and O’Brien’s works exemplify this. His work is distinctive in its carefully edited, focused calm. This boxed set of the books he’s released over the past eight years reflects this, the attention to detail of the publications matching the works therein, including a limited edition of the fantastic Oh No, I Think I’m Falling.?
Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran
With an impressive array of new museums and art fairs popping up across the region, artistic expression in the Middle East is experiencing something of a renaissance. Art of the Middle East is an accessible overview of modern and contemporary art of the Middle East and Arab world from 1945 to the present. The featured works include literature, portraiture, politics, and conflict and war, while extended captions provide commentary on each artwork and the artist.
Giving in to Live the Experience
Using textile-type patterning, Wackers’ work pairs the organic and geometric as a means of making the minuscule larger in the grand scheme. The objective, he says, is to create “first a response to the world and then a reaction to what it has to offer.” Yet, what’s most notable here is the absence of people in the process, the focus instead is left on the remnants of human activity, what is left behind during the experience.
The Markets of New York?
A day perusing art in New York City goes hand-in-hand with visits to local shops. As such, while not an art book per se, this handy guide is included here simply to be part of the experience. Packed with research, directions, and advice, the guide has excellent recommendations for diehard shoppers interested in bargains or flea-market finds, as well as collectors, gift shoppers, and craft aficionados.
?This collection, created eight years ago along Logan’s route to the Yukon, is first being unveiled at the fair. The figures in Logan’s paintings are variations on the allegorical character of a man – optimistic and pioneering – panning for gold along the cold line between the USA and Canada. The images of this focal character and the oilmen, loggers, and crooks he meets along the way illustrate the eternal pairing-off of reason and nature.?
Unleash: A Wandering Journal
?About a year ago, five students majoring in communication and media sciences at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates began passing around 1,000 bright red notebooks at schools, universities, and other venues within the UAE. The goal was for participants to record diaries, drawings, and so on, on a single page, before passing them on to a friend or colleague. The objective was, despite its sweeping scope, very simple: create a social movement to unleash the UAE’s hidden talents. “Whether it is writing a poem, sketching a drawing, creating a painting, or sticking a photo, each person is able to express him or herself using one page of the journal,” the organisers said. “Young people [here] lack inspiration and motivation to be creative, following instead popular career streams purely for monetary value, without the inner drive that enables them to fulfill their true potential”.?
New York, USA
Of special note are two components:
?The Classroom is a curated series of informal conversations between artists, also encompassing workshops, readings, and other artist-led events, with continuous enrolment for all fair-goers throughout the weekend.
?The event is ideal for those seeking what’s new or what’s outside the box of their own exposure. For more, check out