I'm reading Lucy Lippard's Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972. There's a lot that helps me makes sense of what I've been doing over the past few years, or at least reaffirms my thoughts whilst jumping from one thing to another. From painting to drawing to publishing, for example.
I suppose the danger of reading something in the context of something else that is currently active, is that you'll naturally make associations between the two. Like reading a horoscope towards the end of the day — there will always be significant parts. However, reading texts without any reason or thought of association always leaves me a bit cold. Like someone teaching you a skill for which you have no use. It's always better to learn a skill when you have a need for it.
Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism to Conceptualism seems a very natural line, and a line I've followed over the past 20 years, perhaps slightly late. Ab Ex seems slow, heavy, expensive. Conceptualism is less expensive, perhaps already made, ephemeral and as an object, if one exists, less intimidating than an abstract painting is to some. Minimalism seems a direct response to Ab Ex, and conceptualism a development of that. Although Conceptualism to my mind is less rigid, less formal, more open and potentially more fun in many ways.
There's an interesting quote on page xiii from 1969, John Baldessari. I was beginning to suspect that information could be interesting in it's own right and need not be visual...
And on page xiv a quote from Ed Ruscha regarding his photobooks, not being "to house a collection of art photographs—they are technical data like industrial photography." Lippard then mentions the "elimination of text" in these books, allowing the photographs to be "neutral".
The majority of the books I publish are in collaboration with artists / photographers; generally using work from their archives which was shot/made for a very specific purpose or brief, often to be published in the press, alongside a story. So, I suppose to illustrate or support a thought or idea. I have said many times that I don't like to put text in the books. Occasionally I have to, but not often. The images are presented in the same weekly format as all the other images I publish, stripping them of their original context. The idea being that they become neutral. The pictures I want to be seen as pictures, not as political statements nor as comments on the time, class, religion, race etc. Of course, all the images are shot by a person, at a time and each of those things brings connotations, but presented simply, democratically and "neutral", I hope they can be seen as autonomous things.
Page xvii, there is a lot of discussion around the speed of dissemination in relation to technology but also process. So back to, for example, Ab Ex or in my case painting generally. It was a slow process, 18 months for a series of 7—10 paintings. And costly. And costly to transport, and only really feasible to do so within the country of origin. I also get bored easily, so exhibit things a couple of times before wanting to move on. However, having spent a lot of money and 18 months creating something, I feel obliged to look after it. And, the paintings are reliant on 'the galelry'. Faxes for Seth Siegelaub meant he could create art and display art across globally in seconds. For me, zines and books did similar. Pre—internet, the zine was used to spread a message, fast and underground as well as being a DIY fanzine. Blogs / streams have taken over that aspect I think, but the zine is still a very valid form if for a different purpose.
A new site. New blog. An introduction. At certain times during the year; usually the busiest most chaotic times, I re-evaluate my work, reasons for making, what I'm making, and try to understand it a little more. Usually I make a new website for my work, to coincide with my reassessment / doubt.
I've been publishing books now for 10 years. What started as a test has grown into a business, although the business aspect is less important than the books and the enjoyment of collaborating with artists and photographers to make them. What was one—book—every—whenever—I—felt—like—it, is now a weekly routine. Sometimes twice weekly. The books started as a way to post work across the world inexpensively and fast. Sometimes photographic, mostly drawing. Now they are 99% photographic, but drawing still niggles, as does painting which I did before drawing.
The books are pretty focused now; generally UK documentary from the past 40 years. There are 300 books all together and 200 from the current UK doc series, so there's a fair collection of a 'type' of work. Someone might want to make sense of that one day, in terms of a collection or history. It's a collection of work that galleries in the UK sadly missed, preferring to collect 'fine art' instead. Only recently have UK galleries started to collect photographic work, so they're playing catch up.
The books aren't really books, they're pamphlets. They sit in a strange and perhaps unique place somewhere between photobook, zine, artist's book, archive, collection, information leaflet and multiple; I don't know where exactly. They are widely collected, and exhibited. Ironically perhaps, as a strong reason for beginning to publish was as a method of showing work outside of the gallery system. Recently the first archive box was displayed at The Photographers' Gallery in London, and currently the same box is being exhibited at The Tetley in Leeds. The archive box contains the first 100 of the current series. Every 100th book I make an edition of 10 archive boxes. Box two is out soon.
I also draw, take photographs, write a bit and collect. I teach too. This all this fits together well. Artist's publications as a general term seems to fit, mostly, in terms of what I make with others and where the stuff I make ends up. I'm going to use this site, hopefully, to make a bit of sense of what I've made so far, and to add what I'm making now. Chances are, in a few months things will change again, but for now, I'm here.