The London Art Book Fair is more than just an art book fair, as, in addition to playing host to more than eighty of the world’s leading publishers, from Laurence King Publishing to Fitzcarraldo Editions, the Whitechapel Gallery becomes the X Publishing School, complete with a lecture hall, common room, assembly hall, library and even playground. Founder of X Marks the Bökship Eleanor Vonne Brown guides us through all the fun of the fair.
Isn’t print dead, or at least nostalgic?
This is the kind of question that makes me fall asleep in panel discussions. Yes, print is dead but we still like it!
You’re converting the Whitechapel into the X Publishing School. Talk us through the curriculum and how you’re planning to deliver it.
The X Publishing School programme will take place across five spaces in the book fair: a lecture hall, a common room, an assembly hall, a reading room and a playground. The school takes Robert Filliou’s book Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts (Koenig, 1970) as inspiration for its curriculum. Filliou was a French artist associated with Fluxus, who produced works with a do-it-yourself philosophy and had radical ideas on participatory art making and teaching. Anders Kreuger, MKHA’s senior curator, will give a lecture introducing Fillious’s ideas in the Lecture Hall on Sunday. In the Common Room and Reading Room I have invited people who have participatory practices, enjoy collaboration and are interested in creating networks to host events. Design collective Evening Class are having a discussion on Commons and Community Economies, Feminist Print Network are running a peer-to-peer crit. Visitors to the book fair can enrol in collaborative workshops, publisher-led seminars, reading groups and family-friendly activities. There will be a reading list available as a handout, with featured publications available to be bought from publishers at the fair.
What are (some of) the can’t-miss-this moments of the programme you’ve planned?
Sarah Lowndes’s talk on Friday lunchtime will set the scene with a history of the DIY movement in art, music and publishing, showing examples of alternative models from across the world.
The Bad Vibes Club on Saturday will discuss an excellent new book, To Become Two by Alex Martinis Row (Archive Books), in their reading group. It is a practical handbook of twenty new propositions for feminist collective practice, which were formed in collaboration with a network of contributors through experiments based on historical practices including those of the Milan Women’s Bookstore cooperative.
On Sunday Anders Kreuger, editor of Robert Filliou: The Secret of Permanent Creation, will discuss his book based on the transcript of an extensive conversation between Filliou and the Brussels-based art critic Irmeline Lebeer, recorded on seven cassette tapes in Flayosc, southern France, in August 1976. The text is structured as an abécédaire and touches on a variety of topics to do with Filliou’s art and thinking, from amitié (friendship) to zen. It was supposed to become an extensive monograph but was never published at the time. The recent discovery and publication of the text gives a direct insight into the mind and practice of Filliou.
What makes a great art book fair?
For me a great art book fair has a good combination of selling and sociability. There should be a platform for publishers to open up their books to the public through talks, discussions and book launches in order to give visibility and context to their books. On Sunday morning we will be hosting a Publishers Assembly for exhibitors to discuss with fair organizers what they think makes a good book fair and to share ideas that can be used shape future fairs. I have invited D.I.Y Cultures, Strange Perfume and the Dublin Art Book Fair to speak informally alongside book fair regulars and Ju Hee Hong, who edited European Art Book Fairs on the Shelf. The assembly will be recorded and the suggestions distributed afterwards.
The London Art Book Fair
From 6 to 9 September at the Whitechapel Gallery, LondonVISIT WEBSITE