Books, books everywhere. LA Art Book Fair 2014

You’d think a gathering of hip and beautiful people might verge on pretentious, but the LA Art Book Fair was a cliché-trumper. A colorful scene flooded the galleries of The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA with a swirl of eager visitors migrating from booth to booth, taking in the fair’s decorative spirit, buying everything from artist’s books to periodicals to zines. There was a lot to choose from: 250 exhibitors from 20 countries were there, with a hefty presence from California. It was a proud day for any native. If you weren’t in a book-buying mood, there were tote bags, greeting cards, prints, pins and other goodies up for grabs. Did anyone notice the curious preponderance of cat-themed stuff?

It is immensely gratifying, being able to touch or handle anything on display. Here, if it piqued your interest it would most likely end up in your hands. Be it the first 3-D-printed book or a “garbage zine,” a book of colorful, risograph prints or a suitcase housing W.G. Sebald memorabilia, mere moments separated you from different universes.

Institute of Cultural Inquiry, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Searching for Sebald (Artist Edition), suitcase housing 20 works of art by 20 artists or visual researchers, LA Art Book Fair 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

There were seas of beautifully wrought artist’s books. Redfoxpress & Antic-Ham (Ireland) had an eclectic selection, most of them screenprinted. After I picked up Turkish Wedding the vendor himself chimed in: it was based on his son, Govinda’s, wedding in Istanbul. Photos, ticket stubs and other ephemera escorted me through an intimate stage in this artist’s life.

Redfoxpress & Antic-Ham, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Redfoxpress & Antic-Ham, Publishers Francis Van Maele and Antic-Ham, LA Art Book Fair 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

I found myself in a variety of such moments. Take the vendor at Harper’s Books (NY) who caught me perusing photos of a stallion undergoing artificial insemination. I gather it was my stunned expression that compelled him to patronize me about the subject matter. What can I say? Sometimes the unfamiliar is jaw dropping.

Sexuality was strongly present at the fair. A book of vintage photographs published by The Kingsboro Press (LA/NY) revealed images of women in S&M gear. These photos, disseminated surreptitiously in the ’50s and ’60s, the eras of “smut,” were culled together to form Kingsboro’s newest title, The Periodical Flesh. It was a one-of-a-kind time capsule, and a fine segue into a nearby exhibit presented by Andrew Roth and PPP Editions (NY).

Behind a barrier of rope, 126 books on the social sciences were neatly displayed on the ground. Perfectly rounded holes were carved into their covers, revealing erotic photographs of women beaneath. It was a comical and thought-provoking convergence of worlds: academia and sexuality— a binary, if you will, of the sacred and profane.

Andrew Roth and PPP Editions, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Andrew Roth and PPP Editions, Collaborative project created exclusively for LA Art Book Fair by Leigh Ledare and Nicolas Guagnini, LA Art Book Fair 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

The fair offered an eye-opening taste of a vibrant landscape, abroad and on L.A.’s doorstep. Books are here to stay. Ensuring this were exhibitors from England, Germany, and Greece, to name a few, and LA-based organizations like Giant Robot 2, KCHUNG Radio, FAMILY Bookstore, and the Institute of Cultural Inquiry. An entire list of exhibitors can be found on the fair’s website.

The adventure was cut short at 6:00 PM, closing time. A friend and I were drooling over L.A. neon artist Dan Regan when a security guard rained on our parade. Unable to resist sneaking in a last stop we hurried over to LAND AND SEA, a small press and record label based in Oakland. Moments later the same security guard spotted us. Before being escorted to the door, we managed to buy an “exploded book” of 100 glowing risograph prints—just in the knick of time. It was a steal, and an unexpected after-hours sale by the proud artist who compiled it.

LA Art Book Fair 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

LA Art Book Fair 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

Discussion 2 commenti

  1. February 18, 2014 at 3:24 am

    You are a wonderful writer. I felt as if I attended the LA Art Book Fair with you! Thank you for the joy of reading your review!

  2. February 18, 2014 at 3:26 am

    You are a wonderful writer! I felt as if I attended the fair with you! Thank you for writing such an impressive review!

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by Olivia Fales
in Focus on the American West

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory