2012 NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1

By Peggy Roalf   Friday September 28, 2012

The seventh annual NY Art Book Fair runs from Friday through Sunday at MoMA PS 1. Organized by Printed Matter, the event will bring together 283 exhibitors from 26 countries in high-ceilinged galleries that would otherwise sit empty, awaiting installation of PS 1’s fall exhibitions.

Last year over 15,000 artists, book buyers, collectors, dealers, curators, independent publishers, DIY book-makers and other enthusiasts came to the fair—to browse, shop, schmooze, swap, and snack—and to attend the wall-to-wall panels, workshops, readings, book signings, and other artist-led programs.

The NY Art Book Fair is such an essential meeting ground that I asked some DART subscribers to share their thoughts on what makes it special. Here is what they wrote:


John McWhinnie@Glenn Horowitz Bookseller (2011). Courtesy NYABF.

Dierdre Donohue is the Stephanie Shuman Librarian of the International Center of Photography [more], and an artist: The NY Art Book Fair has gradually become the very centerpiece event in each busy year of the ICP Library because our community is really, really in love with making books, and the “House that Printed Matter Built” is the nucleus of all of that vitality.

The immense number of vendors from throughout the world at PS1 guarantees that I will learn a huge amount, meet fascinating artists, publishers and distributors, and will not be off my feet all weekend. I love to be able to handle the books myself. No digital interface can replicate that. It also functions like an ICP Alumni Weekend, where I can see the hundreds of beloved graduates of our programs and see what they are up to.

ICP’s MFA’s will have a table at the fair and will also be opening their studios down the street from PS1 (24-20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City) along with the 10X10 Japanese Photobook Pop-up Library.

Mary Virginia Swanson is co-author with Darius Himes of "Publish Your Photography Book" (Princeton Architectural Press 2011), and a trusted advisor to photographres [more]: The NY Art Book is the most exciting book fair of the year. I look forward to the rare opportunity to meet book-makers, publishers, and distributors and discuss their recent projects. Seeing limited edition books in person is a joy! As hand-crafted artists books-meet-digital printing, I anticipate seeing examples of innovative hybrid book objects at this year's fair. The NYABF always offers strong slate of education (CABC) within the same facility, too. Who could ask for anything more? [Note: MVS will be presenting on being published vs. self publishing at Photo Expo Plus in October]


Edie Fake (2011). Courtesy NYABF.

Ofer Wolberger is a photographer who publishes artists’ books under his own Horses Think Press imprint [more]: I participated in the NY Art Book Fair last year and the response overall was pretty amazing. I haven't done that many other fairs since except for Offprint Paris and C/O Berlin Bookdays, both photo-centric fairs. Those were great, too, but the audience was really focused on photography. With the NY Art Book Fair, people are open to all kinds of books and have less expectations of what they might find. In many ways they are just looking for something they haven't seen before.

I’ll have a table in the artist/zine section of the fair again this year and I think it's great that the fair can accommodate the big publishers and collectors while also giving equal footing to the younger lesser known artists and zine-makers. 

Saul Robbins is a photographer, educator, and board member emeritus of Camera Club of New York [more]: The NY Art Book Fair is an incredible resource because of how many vendors and resources there are under one—very large—roof, and for how many non-traditional authors and publishers are under a tent in the courtyard. As an artist and educator considering self-publishing, the NYABF allows me to schmooze with so many authors, gallerists, publishers, and to expand my network, in a very exciting and stimulating environment. Note: Saul is creating a pop-up psychotherapy office for Chashama Windows (266 West 37th Street, NYC) where passersby can engage with artists and therapists, October 10-23. Information.

Russell Fernandez is the Marketing Manager/Publicist at Princeton Architectural Press [more]: The audience at the NY Art Book Fair is as eclectic and hard to define as the books on our list. They really appreciate our idiosyncratic take on visual culture. From a marketing standpoint, it's ideal. Where else could we find designers, typographers, visual artists, and book lovers of every stripe under one roof? The hard part for us is deciding which books from the backlist to bring. We wish we could to bring them all!

Daniel Horowitz is an artist, illustrator, and self-published book artist [more]: Visiting the NY Art Book Fair, for the first time I began to seriously consider books as an art form rather than just as art catalogues. Particularly because smaller editions are now more affordable, with self-publishing, a whole new category of independently published art books has emerged, which look and feel as good as anything you will see at a museum bookshop. Note: Daniel’s work is included in Magnetic Truths, currently on view at Artists Wanted Gallery.


Richard Renaldi (left) of Charles Lane Press and John Jenkins of Decode Books. (2011). Courtesy NYABF

David Strettell is an independent bookseller/publisher and founder of Dashwood Books [more]: I feel there is a real sense of community to the NY Art Book Fair. The financial investment is less and the sense of competition amongst dealers isn't quite as palpable. I like the idea of dealers selling books for tens of thousands of dollars next to a kid selling buttons for 25 cents. For me, as I do as much buying and selling and now I'm doing more publishing, it gives me a chance to launch a few publications and plan signings at my store in the city around this time.  

Ken Schles is a photographer and book artist [more]: The NY Art Book Fair offers the camaraderie of peers and exposure to numbing, and many times, numbed masses. You will meet appreciative fans and shopping mall divas rummaging and fighting over even the possibility of some unforeseen bargain. The NY Art Book Fair is both Turkish Bazaar and orgy room, a connoisseur's delight and a ruckus room where the bride is stripped bare. It is an orgy of bibliophile intrigue, gossip and news, and what I imagine it would be like to be stuck in a traffic jam in Lagos, Nigeria during rush hour. At times it’s unmanageable and boring, and other times overwhelmingly stimulating. I feel like a child in a candy store that is being torn apart by a tornado: does one continue to stuff one's pockets in the face of such physical and sensory calamity?

For a photo book artist it offers riches and disappointments, false alleyways, and surprising vistas. You will see, all in the space of five minutes, what is possible and impossible. Hard to say what it does for me as a book artist, but as a participant, I imagine it is like what it would feel like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel—if you are compelled to do it, you are in for the ride of your life, and you are likely unprepared for it. You feel like the shank of a lamb being thrown into a tank of piranhas. But then again it's kind of fun to be nibbled like that even though you know there are a lot of sharp teeth out there. [Note: a recent review of Oculus, which Ken debuted last year at NYABF.

David Sandlin is an artist, book artist, and educator [more]: This amazing, sprawling fair (the biggest of its kind in the world now?) offers a chance to see—and buy—artist’s books and printed works from just about everyone who ever made such things. You never know what kind of treasures are going to be out there. One year the Sims Reed Gallery from London had Eduardo Paolozzi’s Moonstrips Empire News portfolio; another time they had a complete set of Goya’s Disasters of War.

This year I’m looking forward to watching a binding demo by the innovative print collective CREEP and checking out favorite German publishers like Lubok and Re: Surgo!, and New York outfits like Printed Matter (which will have my latest book, Mort-Gage), PictureBox, Desert Island, and Cinders. And Marshall Weber of Booklyn just got back from Beijing, where he curated with Xu Bing a giant museum show of over 500 artist’s books, including one of mine. I’ll also be showing my 27-foot-long silkscreened book Slumburbia at his booth.


Lubok Verlag (2011). Courtesy NYABF.

Richard Renaldi is a photographer and an independent publisher, founder of Charles Lane Press [more]: Walking through aisle after aisle at the NY Art Book Fair is akin to the wonderment and excitement of wandering through FAO Schwartz when I was a young boy. The book fair provides moments of discovery and desire for things that are tangible, precious, thoughtful and intelligent. Speaking as both a publisher and collector, this annual event is not to be missed!

Margaret Morton is a photographer and professor of art at The Cooper Union [more]: The overwhelming number of artist books on display gives my Art of the Book students a unique opportunity to make discoveries and engage in dialogues with individual artists.

Christina Labey and Jason Burstein are the founders of Conveyor Arts, an organization dedicated to the print, production and publication of new work in photography, and publisher of Conveyor Magazine [more]: The NY Art Book Fair is a great initiative and inspiration for the production of new art publications. In the months leading up to the NY Art Book Fair, we definitely feel the energy and excitement for the event, as we meet with many artists and small publishers creating projects specifically to debut at the fair. For the past few weeks, our presses have been running non-stop with book projects that we are printing and binding for many exhibitors at this year's NY Art Book Fair. It's exciting to get a sneak peek at these publications.

The NY Art Book Fair provides a great resource for artist who work in the book format, it raises a great deal of enthusiasm and interest to the somewhat niche world of fine art and photography books. The event is free and open to the public at MoMA's PS1, which allows a vast and diverse audience to engage first hand with a wide variety of art books in the museum setting, it also provides exposure to publishing imprints that are both local and international. It's thrilling to see the art institution transformed into a bustling market of artist, designers, publishers, all working in the medium of books and related printed matter!


Badlands Unlimited (2011). Courtesy NYABF.

Note: Three DART subscribers will be signing their books at the NYABF:
Sunday at 3 pm: Amy Stein and Stacy Arezou Mehrfar | Tall Poppy Syndrome (Decode 2012). 
Sunday, 4-5 pm: Micki Smith | Denudation (limited edition/Hassla 2012). 
If there are more of you out there, please contact me. I’ll look for you at the fair!

The 2012 New York Art Book Fair, free and open to the public, takes place at MoMA PS 1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue at the intersection of 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY [map]. Note: the fair is free, but to guarantee a seat for the keynotes at the CABC, advance tickets are available / $20.


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