Sunday, June 9, 2024

A physical book which compiles conceptual books by various artists

[Various artists]
A physical book which compiles conceptual books by various artists
Madison, USA: Partial Press, 2022
180 pp., 5.83 x 8.27”, softcover
Edition size unknown

A compendium that collects a series of ‘conceptual’ or ‘unrealized’ books and moves them one step closer to realization by bounding them together and getting them into bookstores. 

Edited and published (as Partial Press) by Carley Gomez and Levi Sherman, the book’s full title is 
A Physical Book Which Compiles Conceptual Books by Various Artists: Possibly Undermining Their Conceptual Commitment to Dematerialization, but Also Sparking Unforeseen Juxtapositions and Insinuating the Works into New Situations.

Featuring over ninety contributors from around the world, the volume presents books that previously only existed as "verbal statements, descriptions, or provocations”. Beyond conceptual works, the book features rhetorical, impossible and implausible books.

The title can be purchased from Fungus Books, in Pittsburgh, a small but well-curated store dedicated to "Rare, new, & used books, records, printed matter.” Fungus was founded by writer Ed Steck, alongside partners Seth Glick (Concept Art Gallery) and Michael Seamans (Mind Cure Records). Seamans stocks a small display of vinyl records in the store, where one might find Sun Ra, Sonic Youth, Brian Eno, Moondog, Jandek, and Terry Riley disks. 

The bookstore carries some of my favourite contemporary publishers of artists’ books: Primary Information, Siglio Press, and New Documents. Our visit was brief, but I spotted several gems, such as 
Brion Gysin’s Dream Machine Plans, a rare Ben Vautier pamphlet, Steve McCaffery’s double volume Seven Pages Missing and Marcel Duchamp’s The Blind Man reprint. Other author/artists in stock included Harry Smith, Susan Howe, Luis Bunuel, Bernadette Mayer, William Burroughs, Yvonne Rainer, James Baldwin, Valie Export, Dieter Roth, Destroy All Monsters, and many others. 

The store is located at 700 & 1/2 South Trenton Avenue, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Visit their site here

A physical book which compiles conceptual books by various artists is also available as an ebook, for $2.00, here.  

"When Levi first envisioned the anthology, he pictured conceptual books in the vein of 1960s and ‘70s Conceptual art, and we did receive such books. Like many Fluxus publications, these conceptual books build a frame through which to view everyday experiences in a new light. An Index of Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Bruex makes this explicit: “Instructions: Move through your days with awareness of new beginnings and final endings.” Some instruction pieces lend themselves to execution, relying on chance to produce novel outcomes. Random Color Generated Instant Book by Esther K Smith & Susan Happersett exemplifies this approach with detailed, plainspoken instructions and everyday materials. Other instructions are more poignant as mental exercises. In this category, we would place Who Has Seen the Wind by Cathryn Miller of Byopia Press. One could feasibly print her ninety-nine sonograms of the wind, but it is Miller’s Duchampian declaration that these imagined prints are art, specifically asemic poems, that is so striking. Despite their variety, these works all share Conceptual art’s emphasis on the viewer/reader rather than the artist. They remind us that reading is a creative, constitutive act.”
 - Carley Gomez

1 comment:

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