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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

PUMPING-UP the VOLUME on PHOTOBOOKS

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Screen dump on Volume site

Screen dump on Volume site

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I attended Volume: Another Art Book Fair in Sydney on the weekend of September 11+13, 2015. The event was a collaboration between Artspace, Perimeter Books and the American artists’ book not-for-profit book shop Printed Matter. Packed into the Artspace building in Woolloomooloo were around 100 ‘Art Book’ makers, publishers and sellers all vying for the attention of potential purchasers. The table holders had spread before them all things book – let’s not try and get into discussions around what an ‘art book’ is, but rather celebrate the range of published products from thin stapled zines and comics, to self-pub photobooks, artists’ books and gallery catalogues, and further to trade-styled ‘fine art’ books and livre d’artiste productions.

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Some of the Volume Art Book Fair table participants included:

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Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Printed Matter

 

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

 

The Perimeter Books table

The Perimeter Books table

Perimeter Books

 

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing: Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

 

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Thorny Devil Press: Richard Tipping

 

George Voulgaropoulos

George Voulgaropoulos

Pneuma Publishing: George Voulgaropoulos

 

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

 

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

MomentoPro: Libby Jefferies

 

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha: Remote Books

 

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

 

Stephen Dupont

 

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

 

Helen Frajman - m.33

Helen Frajman – m.33

M.33: Helen Frajman

 

Chloe Ferres

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Selling books to interested collectors and lovers of books is one thing but as is the case with the emergent trend in self-pub everyone wants to have their own book. To cater to this growing group of keen makers the program included many free forums, workshops and lectures by a variety of key makers and commentators on various aspects of the disciplines of writing and self-publishing (self-pub).

 

Why Publish panel

Why Publish panel

 

As my interest is in topics related to photobooks I attended two sessions: Why Publish and Designing Photobooks. The why-pub panel consisted of Helen Frajman (m.33), Daniel Boetker-Smith (Asia-Pacific Photobook Library), Brad Haylock, Jack Harries and Geordie Cargill and Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter. Attendees, of which there were around 30, heard discussions relating to the usual issues of publishing, getting a designer, edition numbers, marketing, selling and getting your work into the right hands including the international market. Brad Haylock suggested the key themes for photobooks were:

  • Technologies and organizational forms
  • Social relations
  • Institutional and administrative arrangements
  • Production and labor processes
  • Relations to nature
  • The reproduction of daily life and the species
  • Mental conceptions of the world

Ultimately the overall message seemed to be ‘Give it a go’!

 

Designing for Photo Books panel

The Designing for Photo Books panel

 

Associate Professor Christopher Stewart from University of Technology Sydney chaired the Designing for Photobook panel. Each speaker showed examples of their work and discussed design concerns associated with their books. Heidi Romano from Unlessyouwill spoke of her history in design, her passion for the photobook and her experience of the international world of book design. She cited her interest in advancing Australian photobook design as being a driver for her establishment of Photobook Melbourne. Esther Teichmann, and artist from the UK discussed her exhibition work and the challenge of bringing wall-work into the space of the book as well as her experiences, not always pleasant ones, with book designers. Tom Evangeledis, Black Eye Gallery  described his interest in encouraging exhibitors at his gallery to consider a book to support the exhibition but also to enhance the opportunity for the artist’s work to be extended beyond the exhibition dates. Chloe Ferres, probably kept the most on track with the topic of book design by presenting a range of works that in some ways subvert the idea of the book being a vessel to hold photographs that express a narrative – she considers the book structure as also important to the narrative and uses a range of design interventions to disrupt the preciousness that many photographers seem to consider important when they make books.

Christopher Stewart posed questions to the panelists to draw out aspects of the topic but when asked if there were questions from the floor Daniel Boetker-Smith asked about how we can make photobooks that are more about the ‘fetish’ of the book – ‘some books all look the same – I’m interested in all kinds of books. A young photographer in Myanmar stapling a bunch of photographs together to make a book is just as important to me as some “coffee table tome”!’ An attendee agreed and responded that books often look the same as they as designed from a dummy where all decisions about the book are considered at the beginning and immutable – whereas another less formal method is the development of a book in a process where opportunities for review and discovery are made along the way allowing the book to be like a collaborator with the artist…

 

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

 

While some attendees attended these lecture sessions others were busy making books. The print-on-demand company BLURB offered bookmaking workshops over the weekend led by photobook self-publisher Garry Trinh. Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive presented a selection of their books at the event and founder Daniel Boetker-Smith and Bella Capezio led photobook-making sessions as well.

 

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

 

The biggest book-making venture over the weekend was a special project coordinated by Onestar Press who, with Artspace and other supporters including Surry Hills Print & Design Konica-Minolta, design students from University of New South Wales – Art &Design. The project, entitled ‘Book Machine’, brought together a designer with a ‘content provider’ (artist or photographer), and over the course of 3.5 hours the two work together to design a book. Overnight the book was printed and made available to its collaborative participants.

 

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

 

Late on Sunday afternoon the Artspace coordinators drew together a distinguished panel of erudite book critics and commentators including Brianna Munting – NAVA, Simon Barney Artist, Alexie Glass-Kantor – Executive Director Artspace, Maddalena Quarta – One Star Press, Bella Capezio – Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, Philip Keir – publisher and artists’ book collector and Nicholas Tsoutas – Curator and Art management executive. A crowd gathered to hear this discussion and celebrate this unusual project.

 

Book Machine

Book Machine

 

Towards the end of the day on Sunday I rushed around to catch up with people that I still hadn’t spoken with and books not yet seen. I felt something of the heightened energy levels with which these table holders had been operating in the preceding days. Did they sell enough books…? Did they make contacts with people who will do future business with them or provide content for future books…? Did they get a chance to check out what everyone else was doing…? Did they get to do a Book Machine project…? Buy a pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels or take-in the harbor, the Finger Wharf and the view of naval ships at Garden Island.

 

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

 

Volume: Another Art Book Fair was a major undertaking for the visionaries who conceived it and then brought it into fruition. There were so many activities, add-on events, presentations and booksellers and books available for artbookophiles in which to luxuriate. There was a real sense of community created in this art book fair that can only advance the disciplines associated with it. One thing is for certain, at least for me, is that I know I have just attended one of the most significant art book fairs to be held in this country to date. When, and where the next one will be is something we’ll await with much anticipation…

 

Doug Spowart

14 September 2015

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