Guy Debord and Asger Jorn Mémoires
Copenhagen, Denmark: Permild & Rosengreen, 19
64 pp., 8 ½ x 11", "softcover"
Edition size unknown
An artist book with a legendary sandpaper cover. I first heard of this title when I bought Public Image Ltd's 1979 record Metal Box, which came housed in a metal film canister. John Lydon had reportedly first wanted the LP released with a sandpaper cover, in order to destroy the other records in your collection every time it was removed or returned to the shelf.
A year later the idea was realized by Manchester band The Durutti Column, for their album The Return of The Durutti Column (below). Released by Factory Records, the packaging for the disk was hand-assembled by label-mates A Certain Ratio and Joy Division. Ian Curtis is said to have done most of the labour, while his bandmates watched pornography in the other room.
Aphex Twin took the premise a step further, with the release of a sandpaper work designed to engage with your turntable stylus (see earlier post, here).
Mémoires is the second artist's book produced by the Danish artist Asger Jorn and French artist and theorist Guy Debord, when both were members of the Situationist International. See the previous post for their debut.
The heavy-grade sandpaper is typically credited to Debord, but the printer V.O. Permild disputes this account. He maintained that he was tasked with finding an "unconventional" material for the cover, such as asphalt or glass wool:
"Kiddingly, he wanted, that by looking at people, you should be able to tell whether or not they had had the book in their hands. He acquiesced to my final suggestion: sandpaper. Can you imagine the result when the book lies on a blank polished mahogany table, or when it's inserted or taken out of the bookshelf. It planes shavings off the neighbour's desert goat."
Greil Marcus describes reading Mémoires and it's collage of cut-up texts, maps, cartoons and newsprint, splattered with coloured ink, as "like waking from a dream, or falling into one." Strangely, though, his brilliant book Lipstick Traces - which charts the history of punk backwards to the Situationists - fails to note the connection to either Public Image Ltd or Durutti Column. This despite the fact that PIL's John Lydon/Rotten appears on the book's cover and that Marcus discusses the Situationist comic by Andre Bertrand where Durutti Column took it's name and title of theirsand-paper covered debut, The Return of The Durutti Column.
Factory Records was essentially founded at a small Sex Pistols concert in Manchester, attended by Tony Wilson and many of the bands he would eventually sign. Wilson had been introduced to the comic (titled Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti in French) in University, and the influence of the Situationists can be found throughout the label's catalogue, perhaps most notably in his notorious nightclub The Haçienda. It was named in honour of a phrase from Ivan Chtcheglov’s essay "Formulaire Pour Un Urbanisme Nouveau", which was reprinted in the anthology Leaving The 20th Century: The Incomplete Work Of The Situationist International.
The first full-length LP on Factory Records wasn't always intended to be issued in the now-legendary sandpaper cover. The original plan was to release the disc in a metal film canister, which was abandoned when PIL's Metal Box was released. One of Wilson's colleagues at the Granada TV station was dating artist Jamie Reid, who had designed the cover for the Sex Pistol's debut (and swan song) Never Mind the Bollocks. Reid had ties to the Situationists and introduced Wilson to a sandpaper copy of Mémoires.
Asger Jorn and Guy Debord Fin de Copenhague
Copenhagen, Denmark: Bauhaus Imaginiste, 1957
[36 pp.], 24.5 x 17 cm.
Edition of 200 [+ APs]
Shortly after arriving in Copenhagen, and immediately preceding the foundation of the Situationist International, Asger Jorn and Guy Debord reportedly robbed a newsstand of several newspapers and magazines and spent a drunken afternoon cutting up their pages to create a series of collages. The following day, thirty-two of them were transferred to lithographic plates with Jorn standing atop a ladder and dropping India ink onto them.
Yoko Ono Grapefruit
Tokyo, Japan: Wuntemaum Press, 1964
[upaginated], 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm., softcover
Edition of 500
One of the seminal works of Conceptual Art, Grapefruit was originally intended as a Fluxus edition (one of George Maciunas' many planned "Complete works of...") but with Ono in Japan and Maciunas in Germany at the time, the artist self-published under the name Wuntemaum Press.
This first edition includes more than 150 instructional scores, organized under the (seemingly arbitrary) headings of Music, Painting, Event, Poetry and Object. Approximately one third of the book is translated into the artists' native Japanese. Many of the works are dedicated: to John Cage, La Monte Young, Maciunas, Nam June Paik, Peggy Guggenheim, and Isamu Noguchi.
Six years later Simon and Schuster produced an expanded trade edition (with a very brief introduction by John Lennon). Other versions and translations have been issued by Peter Owen Ltd, Sphere, Touchstone, Verlag Bärmeier & Nike, Ediciones de la Flor, Kodansha, Piccola Biblioteca Oscar Mondadori, etc.
The title is readily available today, and MoMA published a facsimile of the original a couple of years ago. The above copies list for between $15 000 and $35 000 US, depending on signature, association and condition.
Brodie West & Mani Mazinani Entry to Two With Four Hands Thinking and Playing
Toronto, Canada: Aerophone Recordings, 2018
2¾ x 4¾ x 1½", Wood, toner, digital download
Edition of 100
Released late last year, this "object album" is the debut recording recording by West and Mazinani.
Recorded in a single day at Mazinani’s Aeroplane Studio, the six improvised tracks feature West on alto saxophone and Mazinani on analog synthesizer and electric piano.
The handmade object and recording is available for $75 CDN, here, or $10 for the standalone digital download.
This week on Tumblr: Michael Dumontier, including collaborations with Neil Farber, the Royal Art Lodge and Micah Lexier, and publications for Paul + Wendy Projects, Bookclub, Martha Street Studio, Nothing Else Press, etc.
[Various Artists] die ecke / the corner / le coin
Friedberg, Germany: Edition Hoffman, 1986
415 pp., 4to, wrappers
Edition size unknown
A catalogue to accompany the exhibition at Galerie Hoffmann in 1986 and then at Wallis Kantonsmuseum, Sitten, Switzerland, two years later. The book is illustrated with photographs, handwritten texts, sketches and conceptual drawings. With contributions from over one hundred artists, including Getulio Alviani, Gianni Colombo, Maurizio Nannucci and Antonio Scaccabarozzi from Italy, François Morellet from France, Klaus Staudt, Ludwig Wilding and Timm Ulrichs from Germany, Julije Knifer from Yugoslavia, Herman De Vries from the Netherlands and Jiri Valoch from Czechloslovakia.
Joe Jones Fluxus Is Dead
Vienna, Austria: Freibord, 1980
18 x 11 x 2 cm.
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies
Freibord was an Austrian literary magazine founded in 1976 by Gerhard Jaschke and Hermann Schürrer, who put out two important sound art cassettes in the 1980's, this one - at the beginning of the decade, and a double cassette by Hermann Nitsch, in 1988.
Fluxus Is Dead consists of a cardboard box housing a small booklet and single cassette. The signature takes the form of a rubber stamp. The track listing is as follows:
Side One: Wiener Secession, 10th Nov. 1980 Fluxus Is Dead, Im Rahmen Der Austellung "5 Jahre Freibord + 10 Jahre Herbstpresse" - 1 Pianp, 2 Bells, 4 Zitars, 1 Madoline, 2 Drums, 1 Manekino
Side Two: Asolo, Concerto Por Bambini, 5-7th August 1980 - 12 Pieces, Featuring Stellisa Jones
This title is exceedingly rare and sells for over $600 US, but has been reissued on both vinyl and CD.
Stefan Sulzer The day my mother touched Robert Ryman
Zurich, Switzerland: Edition Taube, 2015
17.5 × 11 cm.
Edition of 17 signed and numbered copies
Interspersed with statements and information about the work of Robert Ryman, this slim artist book tells the story of a trip to the Beacon, New York Dia Art Foundation, during which Sulzerr's mother became frustrated by the elegant simplicity of Ryman’s paintings and slowly slid her hand over one of them.
The first 17 copies of The day my mother touched Robert Ryman was published as a special edition by Edition Taube. Each comes in a custom-made box, covered in linen and embossed with the title. The work is signed, numbered and touched by the artist's mother.
The regular edition is sold out, but the special edition is available from the publisher, for 475,00 €, here.
Ryman died in his Greenwich Village, Manhattan home on Friday, at the age of 88.
Tonight protesters targeted the Guggenheim Museum, distributing leaflets, holding a die-in at the gallery and then marching down Fifth Avenue carrying a barrier that read “Shame on Sackler.” The demonstrators demanded that the museum sever ties with the Sackler family, over their connection to Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, a drug at the centre of the Opioid Crisis.
The Sackler family donated funds for multimedia labs and lecture theatres at the Guggenheim. An 8,200-square foot area was opened to the public in 2001, and is named the Sackler Center for Arts Education.
Last year protestors held an event an the Metropolitan Museum of Art, decrying it's connection to the wealthy family, throwing mock pill bottles into the moat at the Temple of Dendur ― housed in the museum’s Sackler wing ― which were labeled: “Prescribed to you by the Sackler Family.”
Fiona Banner Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling
The Vanity Press, 2015
830 pp., 29.5 x 21 cm, paperback
Edition size unknown
Publishing is central to Banner’s practice, and her own imprint, The Vanity Press, has produced dozens of bookworks, magazines, calendars, postcards, leaflets and editions since it's founding in 1994. This retrospective bookwork, published to coincide with three major exhibitions, mirrors the scale of her classic early artist's book, The Nam. It features material from her personal archive, compiled over the last 25 years, while considering the relevance of publishing in the Internet age.
The artist designed her own font for the volume, amalgamating typefaces she had previously used in her work (the Full Stop sculptures, other publications, etc.). “It’s a family tree arrangement where the child of Avant Garde and Courier mates with Peanuts and Didot’s child. Bookman and Onyx mate; their child mates with Capitalist and Klang’s offspring – the final font is an unpredictable bastardisation of styles and behaviours.”
The font can be downloaded from the artist's website, here, and the book is available from Ikon Gallery, here.
"Banner’s dense compendium, 800 pages referencing an archive of work spanning 30 years, mimics the appearance of a large phone directory. Not a Christmas coffee table book, but it is a delight and something to stimulate debate, raising questions about the relevance of publications in the digital age. I have known Fiona for many years, and was thrilled to work with her recently on her ‘anti-survey’ show at Ikon. She is an artist who immerses herself in the complexities, possibilities and limitations of language and the written word. Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling, which is published by her own publishing house The Vanity Press, is as insightful as it is idiosyncratic with her charming and unpredictable font, designed especially for this project — aptly named ‘Font’!"