”Now what?” (Part 1): Lives of the Artists’ Book Nov 9 2017

”It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore”, said Steve Jobs in 2008. During this session we will discuss the conditions and possibilities of book and magazine publishing within the art field. In light of their presumed death, how come printed books and magazines seem to enjoy so many lives – or afterlives – in contemporary culture? What are the critical stakes of artistic print publication in the context of the intensifying social integration of monopolized digitial media platforms?
Benjamin Thorel, ”The Gentle Art of Making Books”
As a medium, a document, or a form, the book is one of the most common objects produced and shared in the art world. While the model of the “artists’ book” had been elaborated to highlight the specific approach to printed matter developed by artists from the postwar generation, publishing practices have multiplied over the last decades, as artists, as well as graphic designers, writers and independent publishers conceived of new editorial methods and tactics. Indeed, publishing can be defined today as a critical working site, where questions of production, collaboration and authority are articulated with the notion of public(s) itself.
Lars Bang Larsen, ”Textual Confederacies”
As a teaser to Benjamin Thorel’s presentation, I will comment on a few cases of work that I have done in the way of self-initiated publishing, whether in a curatorial and educational context, or as extra-institutional (‘independent’) initiatives. These publications have often been mediated by collaboration and some level of discursive experimentation, at the limit of the art system’s public sphere – and are hence characterised by both the joys and the discontents of the homegrown art project.
With this session — which will also be visited by Björn Larsson, Åsa Andersson Broms, and Emily Mennerdahl from the ongoing course ”The Photographic Artists’ Book” – we launch a series of events connected to publishing and editorial practices at Rutiga Golvet. In collaboration with the Royal Institute of Art’s library, we have established a magazine reading space, featuring a wide, and growing, selection of contemporary arts magazines from around the world. Here, we will over the coming weeks and months host presentations and release events by editorial collectives and magazines such as Glänta/Bidayat, OEI, Hjärnstorm, and others.
About E2-E4
E2-E4 is the name of the most common opening move in chess, the one that sets the game in motion. E2-E4 is also the name of a program for theoretical activities, exhibitions, and publications at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. “Theory” is here conceived not as academic superstructure or epistemic authority, but as orientation, as that first grasp of our own situation, and of its location in a wider system, network, or totality, which may allow us to begin, to go from the disorientation of undefined possibility, to the provisional determination of practice. The program will explore the use values of the exhibition as a critical information system, in the service of education, aesthetic experience, and public dissemination.
The E2-E4 program is created by guest professors Kim West, Lars Bang Larsen, and curator Stefanie Hessler.