SPRINT _\|/_ Book Fair is not afraid of the unknown

From the 24th to the 26th November 2017, Milan has housed one of its most exciting and anticipated artistic events. SPRINT _\|/_ Independent Publishers and Artists’ Books Salon brings together artists, designers, publishers – and everything in between – chosen with a sharp sensibility. During its three-day salon and collateral program, _\|/_ sustainably showcases practices of different scale and presents artistic research in the context of a book fair, exhibitions, talks, performance and a fundraising party.
Now in its fifth edition, SPRINT _\|/_ happens across a multitude of venues in the Isola district. Among _\|/_’s key spots are spazio O’, a not-for-profit organization where the salon takes place; Agalma, a cultural association focused on promoting contemporary art; Aladino, a restoration studio for antique carpets; and c-r-u-d, a communication-oriented space; participating in the program’s kaleidoscopic breadth are also ATTO, KO Club, LachesiLAB, Pijama and Studio Matias Guerra. The aim of _\|/_, however, is not expansion, but selection. What follows are my impressions of _\|/_, of the fair’s precision and care in representing the value of artistic research while articulating a lively vision through its global outlook.


SPRINT, non profit, book fair, spazio O', Milan, 2017

SPRINT non profit book fair, space O’, Milan 2017


A mysterious sphinx-like stone sculpture oversees the exhibition. Two colourful glass pillars – resembling hand blown stalagmites or magnified tentacles – stand quietly in the middle of the room. They almost go unnoticed in the explosion of black signs and thick marks that saturate both frames and pages, speaking as an arrogant youth. BATT coop’s curation of the exhibition Ever and Ever at Agalma announces the beginning of this year’s edition of SPRINT _\|/_. Hybridizing pop and noise, Ever and Ever brings together analogue and digital gestures, velocity and contemplation, and engages with printed form as a surface for exchange and transformation. Artists like Antoine Orand – through works such as Tonique and Un Peu De Patience, Pas de Violence – reinterpret the comic both structurally and conceptually, presenting a dialogue between sequential images and written content. Fluid, spontaneous strokes reminiscent of Dalí are clustered in Antwan Horfee’s semi-abstract drawings, where high-speed melting matter, exploding flowers and brass instruments feed the dystopic scenario presented by BATT coop. The exhibition gives voice to concerns about violence and contemporary image-making, and presents a vision that, while hinting to an underground sensibility, emerges in a variety of shapes. Ever and Ever invites the visitor to move freely between networks of references: a feather-framed portrait of Saddam Hussein is hung opposite a blown-up foldable poster quoting an 18th century French utopian novel, L’An 2440, rêve s’il en fut jamais (The Year 2440: A Dream if Ever There Was One).


Stimuli, London, SPRINT, non profit, book fair, spazio O', Milan, 2017

Stimuli (London) at SPRINT non-profit book fair, space O’, Milan 2017, Ph Veronica Gisondi


The preoccupation with processes of visual production becomes the force triggering a call for action in Beatrice Marchi’s Susy Culinski & Friends. Currently existing as a book, previously an exhibiton at Fanta Spazio, the project is introduced by a talk at _\|/_. Susy Culinski & Friends originates from Marchi’s need to fight the fear instilled by the possibility of a new era of international warfare. As military technology – drone strikes, ultra-HD torture videos – started to become a tool to articulate specific forms of narration, Marchi explains how images of war increasingly resemble pornography. Raw, crude and available to all, edited with Hollywood-inspired montage, the accessibility and pervasiveness of this way of representing war revolutionized our sensitivity towards images. This evolution in image production and reception leads Marchi to question how to establish a peaceful collective dimension. In order to heal from this uneasiness, she proposes to reactivate a collaborative action and to restore mutual trust, starting from fellow women artists. Susy Culinski & Friends lightheartedly explores the collective exhibition of sexual fantasies in 101 drawings by 39 artists, and challenges the divisive status of sex and female sexuality. Questioning isolation as a condition, as well as power relations and competitiveness within the art world, Marchi’s project fights socially rooted fears and marginalization while restoring collectivity between art workers.


Fabrizio Vatieri, SPRINT, non profit, book fair, spazio O', Milan, 2017

Fabrizio Vatieri at SPRINT non profit book fair, space O’, Milan 2017


Work and being in common – understood as continuous, performative events – also recur in Fabrizio Vatieri’s work. Specifically, Vatieri considers the distance between social contexts, working ethics and spirituality in Dominare Spiritualmente il Progresso (To Dominate Progress Spiritually), which titles an exhibition, a performance and an artist’s book. Vatieri reframes the idea of failure in relation to the fictitiousness of economic booms and capitalist narratives. His work’s title comes from an Italian book published in 1964, and extracts of the original text are republished in his book, appearing next to archival material and pictures he took at an old Italian lighting factory. Vatieri moves away from narrative photography by using it as a backdrop for the exhibition’s performance, a study of real estate agents’ body language, working on the “existential rubber band” that ties together labour and capitalist utopias.


Animal Press, SPRINT, non profit, book fair, spazio O', Milan, 2017

Animal Press (Paris) at SPRINT non-profit book fair, space O’, Milan 2017, Ph Veronica Gisondi


Among the publishers at _\|/_, STIMULI’s Contemporary Art Working Class Hero focuses on the dynamic of dependency that bounds contemporary art workers to the art system and its relation to capitalism as a multi-faceted, deceptive entity. Approaching the question with a curatorial awareness, STIMULI introduces the book to the reader by placing a bright red, oversized, ironically accessible and sensually appealing emergency button on the cover. Memes intertwine with texts on late-capitalist strategies, trolling, and white cube poetry. Labor is no longer an invisible force. It becomes the core material for Susanne Bürner’s photographic research: in volumes such as Euville, dedicated to the event of disappearance, she links the everyday life of anonymous workers to parietal art. Through her series Vanishing Point, Bürner manufactures three autonomous editions by sourcing anonymous texts that guide the reader towards the achievement of complete political disappearance: How to Disappear in America, China and Estonia are compiled singularly by adopting each country’s untranslated mother language. The uniqueness of research processes and geopolitical implications of book-making are also apparent in Claudia de la Torre’s backbonebooks. Envisioning the reader as an active user, her work as a publisher brings attention to the layers between thinking and making, while considering the potentiality of a book as a democratic, sculptural object capable of generating parallel narratives by assembling preexisting material. Likewise, openness is vital to Occulto, a magazine that explores science and mathematics through an independent, non-academic perspective, transversally involving scientists, science historians and artists. Occulto (a title that alludes to irrational thought, theology and para-scientific studies) encourages a dialogue between science and visual art and redefines the value of culture and knowledge through its interdisciplinary approach.


Antoine Orand, SPRINT, non profit, book fair, spazio O', Milan, 2017

Antoine Orand, ÉDITIONS ÉDITIONS (Paris) at SPRINT non-profit book fair, space O’, Milan 2017, Ph Veronica Gisondi


Fiercely independent, with a free admission, not-for-profit, free-of-charge policy,  _\|/_ is a leap into unpredictable outcomes and fearless expression. Thanks to Dafne Boggeri’s exceptional curation, _\|/_ internationally represents and galvanizes the development of daring ideas, hybrid languages and unconventional methodologies.

– by Veronica Gisondi


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