Distributing Distribution

Distributing distribution- about a traveling artist books library  Symposium Rönnells Stockholm 05/15/2013, organised by OEI Editor.

The Mobile artist book library assumes the artistic activity combined with a love of public libraries and the desire to make hidden and forgotten books made by artists, visible. Public libraries implies availability on several levels: everything for everyone. My plan to organize and gather a small scale mobile library for artist books took off with the invitation to be the guest curator of the Vita kuben in Umeå in 2010.

So why call it a library? The first library consisted of archives.

This Mobile artist book library is not a permanent collection of systematized and categorized books. These books are not for lending. Most of the books are borrowed for the different occasions, directly from the copyright persons or from different publishers. A prerequisite is to keep the collection small, of practical and financial reasons, which means not too many volumes or works, each presentation. In practice, the ambition involves contacting and visiting artists and publishers, to borrow books, finding books.

Contemporary artist book extends from the book as artistic craftsmanship and letterpress unique objects or art objects in limited edition, from political magazines and comics, printed books of poetry, sculptural works and other visual representations, concrete poetry and various magazines and fanzines. And more. It is not in my interest to limit specific rules for what may be called an artist book.

But artist books are often unique, special, chosen, not so easy to find outside the galleries and art context, which helps give the book its special value. Of course, the intention may be to mass produce. The question of distribution is a vital part of the advent of the book coordinated the process as a whole.

Often, artist books has no distribution outside of galleries, art fairs and book shops in museums. They are produced, created and presented for specific occasions such as exhibitions and seminars. A book may be the only permanent, the only visible result from a long project. An artist book can often be the work itself, the whole work. In and around Stockholm are a number of institutions and places where one can find artist books, alongside OEI, the place OEI Colour Project and Rönnells antiquarian: the bookshop Konst-ig were you can buy limited editions of books and other printed works and you can visit Botkyrka Konsthall to study their collection of artist’s books in the Labyrinth archive. Other places that should be mentioned is also Aspuddens bookstore, Art & Technology is an agency of graphic design and bookstalls at Bonniers Konsthall and the Moderna Museet.

Image: Vita kuben

Vita kuben is a space for experimental video and sound art within the opera house building at Norrlandsoperan. Vita kuben is built in over the restaurant in the vestibul of the operahouse.

Vita kuben was created and built as an artistic commission by the National PublicArt. Artists Clay Ketter and Carsten Höller got parallel sketch mission and Clay Ketter’s idea was further developed to become a building in the building. A building for the program set operations. The achievement was made possible through an open process of co-operation between the artist, the National Public Art, the architect, the management of the opera and Umeå municipality. Since 2002, the program for Vita kuben is curated by a different artist and in 2010 Ulla West was invited by Tina Eriksson Fredriksson to set the program.

During this half year were some artists to present their work inside and outside the white cube, to relate to the cube itself and its work on the book that concept and context. The intention was to collect and display artist books for the Norrland Opera and the White Cube audience.

Image: Artist’s books on the White Cube

A mobile artist books library grew in the space outside the White Cube.

The library consisted of books made by artists, writers, authors and poets borrowed or donated by copyright persons also loaned or donated by publishers: OEI editor, Axl books, Labyrinth Press, Printing Press editions. A selection of books from Labyrinth archive borrowed this first intervention. I also invited students from Umeå Art Academy to present artist books here. For the opening the poet Mara Lee performed a newly written text in the form of a reading. She was invited in collaboration with Umeå Art Academy. Note that Mara’s text was written to be performed in the present, not to be published. We did not document this performance, which is important to emphasize. Mara Lees text was intented to be experienced than and there.

This library was open to the public in Norrland Opera foyer outside the entrance to the gallery space White Cube. During the six months grew library with new books and new jobs. In the book, the White Cube published by UKW Production 2011, Tina Eriksson Fredriksson presents the white cube’s history as a place for experimental art and I write about the exhibitions and the artbook library with the listed books that were presented during 2010.

Photo: Library Plattan Kulturhuset Supermarket 2011

The library was transported to Stockholm and to the studio at Mosebacke and I started to investigate how I could organize my ideas; the possiblity to arrange a permanent library in my studio. Since my interest in the category of books that can be grouped under the concept of artist books, do not fit within the framework of entrepreneurship or a promising profitable business it proved difficult to find support for my idea, especially as I do not want to focus on accessibility in all directions. Directly after Umeå, I was invited to present the Mobile artist’s book library at Supermarket in February 2011, the artist-run alternative art exhibition at Kulturhuset in Stockholm. It meant a more public place open to a much larger audience at the Culture House library is directly related to the Sergels Torg. For this occasion, I invited also the publisher Firework editons and artist Thomas Liljenberg made a presentation of their activities and printed matter.

Picture: DKTUS

During the summer and autumn of the same year presented a small selection from the artist book collection at DKTUS in Stockholm, together with a program of readings and discussions. DKTUS  The Royal Garden Underground Society is a small house located near the royal palace. The house belonged to  the royal court once and was the notary’s house. Now this small hut is privately owned and used as a place for experimental encounters between art and science. http://www.dktus.org.

During some book interventions guests were invited to open talks on individual selection of important novels, texts or other book experiences. My contribution was to talk about Herman Melville’s novel Bartleby the shrivener from 1857. Specifically refering to the  phrase in the novel: I would prefer not to.

Photo: Library Plattan 2012

Picture: Academy of art Library 2012

2012, I was again invited to present the mobile library at the supermarket, this is also organizing a parallel presentation of the Academy’s library during the simultaneous commercial art fair Market at the Art Academy. I worked this year with artist Andreas Mangione and we made a display of artist’s books that rested on top of stacks of old obsolete art books from the library’s stock. We committed students from the department of artist books at Graphic School of Art to to make site-specific book works at the Art Academy Library and  they chose to make a collective wall magazine.

Pictures: House of Dance Small Stage 2012

The fall of 2012,  the choreographer and researcher Christina Caprioli and CCAP (Christina Caprioli Dance Company), ingaged me together with Tina Eriksson Fredriksson who then worked as a producer on the CCAP, to work on the international research symposium Weaving Labour of Politcs, and to organize a temporary place for books with possible sales during the symposium days at the House of Dance in Stockholm. For the symposium  a crowd of internationally important choreographers, performance artists and theoreticians were invited to attend lectures, talks, performances.  Among the invited guests were Julia Kristeva, Peggy Phelan, Slavoj Zizek, William Forsythe, Kendall Thomas, Diamanda Galas. http://www.weavingpolitics.se.

In the bookinstallation I organised presentations  from OEI editor, Axl books, Glade, Tankekraft, Site Edition, Propexus and more.  OEI invited to give their release for OEI # 58 Sleep/Withdrawal/Attention/ Distraction/The contemporary, including readings of texts from the issue of the poet Martin Högström and writer Olivia Iso. The readings were followed by the artist Karl-Johan Stigmark screenings, also featured in the OEI number. Immediately followed by a CCAP – dance performance.