Monday, November 9, 2015

The Territories of Artists' Periodicals

Marie Boivent & Stephen Perkins, editors
The Territories of Artists' Periodicals
Reenes, France/De Pere, USA: Editions Provisories/Plagiarist Press, 2015
166 pp., 21 x 15 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

One of the earliest exhibitions I curated was titled Magazines by Artists, for Art Metropole, well over a decade ago. At the time, very little had been written on the subject, and research was limited to histories of the individual periodicals - no extensive overviews had been published (to my knowledge). Today there are several large volumes in print - most notably Gwen Allen's Artists' Magazines and Phil Aaron's In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists since 1955. (I reviewed them both for Magenta Magazine, here and here). Several of the leading examples of artists' periodicals have also now been reprinted as anthologies, including Source, FILE, Art & Language Bulletins, ImpulseFOX, Avalanche, and 0-9. Several collections of 'zines and been anthologized (Harmony Korine, Mark Gonzales, etc.).

This new title collects the thirteen papers that were presented at the international symposium of the same name, which took place at the University of Wisonsin-Green Bay, Lawton Gallery over three days in June of last year. Editors Marie Boivent and Stephen Perkins assembled an international group of contributors that include artists, publishers, librarians and historians.

Boivent interviews Charlton Burch, who founded Lightworks magazine in 1976. Lightworks is often omitted from these surveys, perhaps because it occupied a space somewhere in between the traditional art magazine (articles about artists and art works) and artists' magazines (it regularly contained artist pages and projects). Burch often published themed issues (Ray Johnson, Fluxus, the Zero group) and notoriously included a book of matches by Ben Vautier (for burning down museums) affixed to the cover of issue 14/15. The periodical advertised itself as "the most misunderstood magazine in town".

Brad Freeman's JAB also blurs the boundaries between art magazine and artists' magazine. The Journal of Artists' Books was conceived in 1994 as a forum for critical discussion about artists’ books, but also as a creative endeavour: publishing primary material that ranged from small inserts to entire issues conceived of by artists. Freeman's contribution to Territories is an overview of the journal, subtitled "Hybrid Publication Arts".

Kirsten Olds, a professor of Art History at the University of Tulsa, contributes "Queered Territories: Zines of the 1970s and Networked Identity". She discusses projects such as Egozine, General Idea's FILE, and John Jack Baylin's Fanzini, and the way that they "established themselves as potent queer sites".

Simon Anderson is a cultural historian who wrote his Ph.D dissertation on Fluxus, for the Royal College of Art. He has worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1993, where he teaches the history of artists' books and crossover activities such as Pataphysics, Mail-art, expanded poetry and the Situationists. He wrote about Fluxus publications for the Walker Centre's In the Spirit of Fluxus (still as good as any an introduction to the group), and was an active member of early Fluxus online activities. His text centres around two Chicago artists' periodicals: Stare and DuDa.

Stephen Perkins speaks with Doro Boehme, a visual artist ( and writer who currently runs the John M Flaxman Library Special Collections at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They discuss her work at the library, in particular the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection, her own artists' books and a recent presentation she gave called "Visionaire vs Point d'Ironie". Visionaire is a lavishly produced collaboration between artists and the fashion world, and prohibitively expensive. Point d'Ironie uses the tabloid format and is free. It is probably the best distributed artist project on the planet (see the tag below for more information).

Other texts include "Assembling Magazines and the Death of the Editor" by Perkins, "Yugoslavian independent artists' periodicals and other relationship with the art centres" by Ana Radovanovic, and "Archives, Archiving and Archivists" by artist John Held Jr.

The book is available for $14.50 US or 13 Euros. In Europe visit and in North American contact Stephin Perkins at


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hello,
    my name is Giulia Colombo and I’m an Italian art student currently working on my bachelor’s thesis on the subject of the artists’ magazine Point d’Ironie. I find your blog very interesting and I'd like to know if you would be available for an interview. Please let me know if you could, this would be very helpful. I'm struggling finding some accurate material to use as a base for my research. Thank you so much.
    Best regards.

  3. Glulia: I'm not sure if this comment was meant for me or Dave, but feel free to contact me if you still need email:, i also have a artists' periodicals blog at:
    best stephen perkins