2012’s New York Art Book Fair, held annually at MoMA PS1, was a rousing success—featuring 283 vendors, and over 20,000 guests, ranging in scope from rare book antiquarians to anarchist zine publishers, crammed into crowded galleries and tents, representing a global community of people who are not resigned to the death of print media, but rather embrace its multifaceted reemergence. “Marshall McLuhan once said that when a medium dies, that’s when artists take it over,” says A.A Bronson, former director of Printed Matter and the director of the LA and NY Art Book fairs. “So, it feels totally right to me that artists’ publications should be exploding all around us.”
Exploding to such an extent that from February 1-3, the two expansive buildings of Los Angeles’ Geffen Contemporary at MOCA will open their doors to 220 vendors from all over the world, inaugurating the first Los Angeles Art Book Fair. Acting as a symposium of artist’s books, independent and small-press publishing, zine, print, and multiple making, the LAABF comes drenched in a vivid history of California book culture, which is heavily celebrated at the fair. “I would say about 25 to 30 percent of the exhibitors are from California,” says Bronson. “There’s a lot of California history being woven into the show.”
Xeroxed copies of Skate Fate, the original skateboarding zine that ran from 1981-1991, are present, as well as contributions, catalogs, and the overarching presences of California conceptual publication forefathers, such as John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha (whose son, the musician Eddie Ruscha Jr., will aptly be playing the opening).
In addition to the vendors, the LAABF will also host numerous exhibitions and lectures throughout the weekend, including “Zine Masters of the Universe,” which features zines by Mark Gonzales, Ari Marcopoulos, Raymond Pettibon, and Dash Snow. NYABF veterans such as Portland’s Publication Studio will be present, exhibiting small press publications, including Heather Guertin’s new novella, Model Turned Comedian. A library and lecture will celebrate the work of late California artist Mike Kelley, in addition to yoga classes, book groups and even panels on student loan debt.
The coastal shift of the fair, is indicative of the lasting power of the medium of artist’s books, says Bronson. “I think this whole world of visual publishing that we see at the book fair is here to stay,” he says. “And it’s only going to get bigger.”
THE LOS ANGELES ART BOOK FAIR PREVIEWS JANUARY 31 AND RUNS UNTIL SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, AT GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY, 152 NORTH CENTRAL AVENUE, LOS ANGELES, CA.