Executive Editor's Letter: Books, Books, Books!

We do it because we love it. That was a refrain heard over and over again during two big art-publishing events this fall: the Magenta Foundation’s first Flash Forward Festival and the New York Art Book Fair.

Alec Soth and Darius Himes presenting at the Flash Forward Festival, 2010: All photos: Magenta.Alec Soth and Darius Himes presenting at the Flash Forward Festival, 2010: All photos: Magenta.If the audience turn-out at the Flash Forward Festival for emerging photographers is any indication, a tremendous amount of interest in art book publishing exists out there. From October 6–10, hundreds of photographers, publishers, curators, collectors and gallerists from across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. convened in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood to discover new talent, network and share their thoughts on the state of art book publishing. At one of the most highly anticipated and standing-room-only panel discussions, The Future of Photobooks, American photographer Alec Soth, FlakPhoto’s Andy Adams, photographer and co-founder of J&L Books Jason Fulford, liveBooks’ Miki Johnson and Darius Himes, editor of Radius Books, spoke about their experiences – both good and bad – as art book publishers, how photo blogs are impacting book production and  playing a major role in the dissemination of fine art photography, and how to produce and market your own art books. (For example, do your research about a bookstore’s focus before talking to them about carrying your book; there’s no point in wasting your time or the store’s if your work doesn’t fit with their focus.) While the speakers’ boundless enthusiasm for publishing was infectious, they were also very blunt about the prospects of getting wealthy from art book publishing, whether in a traditional format or online: None. “We didn’t get into book publishing with the hopes of becoming wealthy,” said Himes. “There’s a reason Radius is a not-for-profit.” (As is the Magenta Foundation.) And yet, they also acknowledged that a love of books, a desire to help build artists’ careers, and the desire to share one’s vision of the world is enough to sustain them in their pursuits.

Artists Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan at work: New York Art Book Fair, 2010.Artists Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan at work: New York Art Book Fair, 2010.The human drive to share one’s vision was on ample display during the New York Art Book Fair from November 4–7. The range of printed material on offer was staggering, with almost 200 publishers and book dealers from all over the globe in attendance. Larger publishers, including Aperture and Parkett, were there, but the majority of the space was given over to dealers of rare books and ephemera, and smaller independent publishers and artists. Canadians have had a strong presence at this fair since its inception in 2006, and this year was no exception. Art Metropole, the publishers of Hunter & Cook, Bywater Bros. Editions, artist Michael Maranda and the Parasitic Venture Press, and Presentation House (among several others) were in attendance. Toronto-based artist Derek Sullivan and New York-based Gareth Long also shared a space at the fair where they continued work on their ongoing drawing project The Illustrated History of Received Ideas. As for me, it was a thrill to have the opportunity to look through rare artist books that I’ve only seen in pictures (and will probably never be able to afford), to discover books I’d never heard of before, and to come across interesting things in dealers’ binders full of art-related ephemera. Among my discoveries was a letter and photocopied collage addressed from American Fluxus artist Ray Johnson to the poet (and Warhol’s studio assistant in the 1960s) Gerard Malanga at Toronto’s Coach House Press in 1973. Such interconnections and surprises arose throughout the afternoon I spent there. I’m already looking forward to returning next year. (See this issue’s Five Notes for a handful of books and fun objects I saw at the fair.)

Art book enthusiasts browse at the New York Art Book Fair, 2010Art book enthusiasts browse at the New York Art Book Fair, 2010We do it because we love it. That is also the motto of us here at Magenta Magazine Online as we enter into our second year of production! If you compare our first issue back in September, 2009 with this one, you’ll see that we have grown rapidly. This wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment and knowledge of our contributors, and the galleries and organizations that supported and believed in us right at the beginning. We are thrilled to feature the work of three incredibly creative women in this issue: Toronto-based photographer Meera Margaret Singh, Berlin-based singer and performer Peaches, and the pioneering visual artist Suzy Lake. We also welcome the aforementioned Andy Adams as the curator of this issue's two artist porfolios. Inviting others to program that section of the magazine is something we hope to do more of in the future. And, lastly, based on your feedback you’ll see a few changes in the navigation and layout of the magazine during the coming year. We hope that these forthcoming tweaks will enhance your experience of reading MagMagO.

Visit Magenta Television for coverage and interviews produced during the Flash Forward Festival.

Bill ClarkeBill Clarke
Executive Editor, Magenta Magazine Online
Photo: Chris Shepherd

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