Self-Publishing at The ICP Triennial

By Peggy Roalf   Friday June 21, 2013

A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial, a global survey of contemporary photography and video, continues at the International Center of Photography through September 22, 2013. The exhibition features 28 emerging and established artists from 14 countries whose works speak to and illuminate the new visual and social territory in which image making operates today.

That is the stated mission of the show, which fills the ICP’s entire gallery space. By including artists whose working life began in the digital age together with those who broadened an analog practice to combine digital processes, the range of possibilities and reach on view is informative and provocative. 

One of the highlights of the show is an installation celebrating the upsurge in self-publishing that has emerged through the accessibility of digital platforms. Organized in collaboration with ICP Associate Librarian, Matthew Carson, the installation features close to 100 recent photobooks either self-published or produced in small editions by small presses around the world.

The installation itself is worth taking notice of, for it seems to have occupied the designers’ imaginations—and a large portion of their budget. The simplicity of the overall exhibition scheme, whose only distinguishing feature is the intelligent use of floor-to-ceiling clean room curtains to section off different areas, is set off by the “library” installation. Built out of modular stadium bleacher parts, it consists of a three-story scaffolding accessed by two sets of stairs, one of which is a dizzying run of steps rising up from the lower floor.

Books are displayed on narrow shelves, and include zine-like small productions that appear to be hand stapled to beautifully finished editions by small presses, including A-Jump Books, which is located in New England. A few titles by larger presses producing small editions, such as Kehrer Verlag, are included to represent the variety of publishing options now available to photographers.

Each level includes a couple of soft little hassocks for quiet reading, and many of the titles are repeated in case a visitor misses one of the “stacks.” Among the standouts in terms of concept, design and production are several volumes of Raymond Meeks’ Orchard Journal, which are collaborations with other artists on a single subject. Vol. 1 is Crime Victims Chronicle, with Deborah Luster; Vol. 3 is Idyll, with Mark Steinmetz. Both are available through Silas Finch, a non-profit that collaborates with photographers to produce publishing and exhibition projects.

Not, by Uta Reisenreich, issued by Roma Publications, Amsterdam, is a colorful series of still-life photographs constructed from an array of ordinary household items, such as teapots, cabbages, little mirrors and the like, based on the artist’s punning references to non-verbal IQ tests.

Among the smaller issues is a series of pamphlets by 88Books, out of Vancouver, BC, that publishes books by emerging artists in China. Simply and inexpensively produced, these titles aptly express the value of a photobook in its most basic form.

For anyone involved with self-publishing or on the verge of jumping in, this installation is ideal. It’s almost the opposite of the annual NY Art Book Fair, in a very good way, as it offers a pared down yet global view of SP along with the possibility of spending quiet time with lots of well-done photobooks.

In addition, a number of the selected books are available for purchase in The Store at ICP. Also at the Store, tonight from 6 to 7:30 pm, is An Evening with Kehrer Verlag, featuring books by Carlos Cazalis, Sandi Haber Fifield, David Levinthal, Wendy Paton, and Rosemarie Zens. Information.

A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial continues at the International Center of Photography through September 22, 2013. 1133 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY. Information. Photo above: Peggy Roalf
Read Holland Cotter’s review in The New York Times. 
About the ICP Library
On view in the ICP Library’s Window Gallery are 20 self-published artists’ books made by 2013 graduates in the ICP-Bard MFA Program.Information
About Matthew Carson and 10x10 American Photobooks.