A Visit to the Los Angeles Art Book Fair

This past weekend marked the third installment of the Los Angeles Art Book Fair, organized by New York’s Printed Matter. Over 250 exhibitors from around the world showcased printed materials—from artist zines and rare books to limited portfolios and prints—at MOCA Geffen Contemporary. Almost half of the publishers were from California, which has a (relatively) long tradition of publications by artists, including L.A.’s Ed Ruscha in the 1960s and San Fancisco’s Lew Thomas in the 1970s.

 

Some Cali favorites included East of Borneo, an online magazine of contemporary art that recently published Allan Sekula’s book on the development of downtown Los Angeles during the rise of Frank Gehry's Disney Hall; artist Eve Fowler’s booth, which was selling her graphic text based prints; and ROCK BOTTOM, founded by Suzanna Zak who also collaborates with the excellent Pennsylvania publisher Gottland. Kibum Kim, co-founder of the art fair NEWD, which works with project and artist-run spaces, was a fan of Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA): “It stood out with spare presentation focusing on performance that related to its archiving mission.” Though not based in California, BOO-HOORAY produced an exhibition on the zines, books, and photographs of L.A. couple Ed and Deanna Templeton.

 

“This is one of my favorite book fairs to do. It is more relaxed plus the climate doesn’t hurt.”

 

The fair included numerous thoughtfully curated events and readings. LA-based artist Frances Stark delivered the keynote address at the Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference. REDCAT, CalArts’s interdisciplinary arts center, hosted a presentation by Dena Yago and Sean Monahan, two members of the trend forecasting group K-Hole, which most memorably coined the term “normcore” in their last report, Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom. They discussed research pertaining to their highly anticipated forthcoming report on communication in America, from online messaging to larger social and political interactions. 

 

Another highlight included Art Metropole’s new limited edition artist bag designed by Matthew Lutz-Kinoy. The hand-painted matcha green rucksack includes scrolling text on the straps that reads “horny cliff bitch”, a variation on the surfer term cliff wife. “When way out in the ocean or on the beach inside your wetsuit, surfing can feel very anonymous,” said Lutz-Kinoy. “These bags will help indentify gay surfers.” Previous bags were designed by M/L Artspace and Eckhaus Latta. Corinne Gerber, the director and editor of Art Metropole, noted the growing attendance over the past three years. “This is one of my favorite book fairs to do. It is manageable and more relaxed plus the climate doesn’t hurt.” No wonder why artists and dealers can't stop flocking to L.A. in recent years.