“ Photo Books Today” Symposium and Codex Book Fair in SF

Today I would like to share my trip to San Francisco in early February. I went there with Sangyon Joo of Datz press to attend two events: Photo Alliance’s Symposium and Codex Book Fair. Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.44.41 PMPhoto Alliance Symposium: Photo Books Today at San Francisco Art Institute (Feb 7, 2015) Photo Alliance was founded by Linda Connor in 2002 and is a non-profit organization that caters the Bay Area photo community. For the symposium, speakers ranged from artist to designer to printer to publisher and discussed photo books from different perspectives. Below, I will share some of my notes that made me think about what constitutes “photo book.” San Francisco Art InstitePresenter: Tate Shaw

  • Monograph vs. Photo-book work
  • Photographer – Designer (50-50)
  • Most photo books are catalogs.
  • Idea + Images + Form => Book (is a piece).
  • Lavalette / Links

Presenter: Eileen Gittins (CEO, Blurb)

  • Photo book = Memory & Artifacts.
  • Photo book has Weight.
  • Print = Slow Food.

Presenter: Robert Aufuldish (graphic designer)

  • Designer can bring fresh eyes.
  • You may not need a designer but you do need design. Design creates context for your work.

Presenter: Philip Zimmermann

  • Phonebook work is not portfolio.
  • It is a time-based, intimate medium that creates an expressive dialogue between the artist-photographer and the viewer and uses the codex form intelligently.

Round table discussion:

  • Carrion said, “Book is sequence of spaces.”
  • What books are, what they can be, what they can do?

It was a fruitful day at San Francisco Art Institute. The enthusiasm for photo books were overwhelming. There are so many resources for bookmaking in the Bay Area and people are investing and engaging with books. SF Art Institute offers several bookmaking classes and the school’s library has incredible collection of photo books. Unfortunately library is open for current students of SF Art Institite. Codex Book Fair at Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA (Feb 8-11, 2015) Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.46.17 PMCodex Book Fair is a biennial fair (fifth this year) which focuses on fine press. With more than 200 exhibitors from around the world, Codex Book Fair sets itself apart from other fine press book fairs. At most tables, one can find an extreme level of craftsmanship in bookmaking. Text in books is often done using letterpress, a tedious and time consuming process. Its symposium got sold out way before the event date. The popularity of book art is only increasing each year. Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.47.06 PM Since the fair was filled with highly crafted books, minimal and conceptual German artist, Veronica Schaters stood out. Her approach was completely different from one book to another. She put a lot of effort into finding the perfect material to realize her concept. It seemed that her 15-year stay in Japan helped her to combine eastern and western approaches in bookmaking.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.48.20 PM

Veronica Schaters (VSBOOKART)

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.50.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.50.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.51.10 PM   Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.51.24 PM Some photographic works in the fair:Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.51.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.51.39 PM Bookmaking Suppliers Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.52.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.52.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 6.57.21 PM At the end of three days, an unexpected treat was a visit to Muir Woods National Monument where I encountered ancient redwoods. It was perfect ending after seeing a lot of books.

sharing my experience with solo shows and a book publication (part 3)

Publishing a book in conjunction with an exhibition is important. An exhibition ends after a certain period of time and only remains in recordings like photos and videos but a book can have a life of its own even after the exhibition is gone. A book is a physical object that one can always return to.

Publishing “encounters” with Datz Press brought me a lot of opportunities that I didn’t anticipate. My intention was to turn my artist book into a more approachable book form so that people who showed interest in buying my artist book can finally own a copy.

The founder of Datz Press, Sangyon Joo received his MFA at San Francisco Art Institute. Since San Francisco is a city of book lovers, Ms. Joo was able to learn bookmaking and work in the industry while living in the Bay Area. When she returned to Korea in 2010, she founded Datz Press as a bookmaking studio, Datz Museum of Art as an exhibition venue, and Magazine Gitz as an interview magazine.

I was thrilled to find that Datz Press would make my accordion books in an edition of 100. Instead of one long individual piece I made, Datz’s staff divided the book into 11 sections and glued them and folded them. The final result was better than my original design. I included a small original print in each book.

"encounters" published by Datz Press in 2015 (photos by studio at Datz Press)

“encounters” published by Datz Press in 2015 (photos by studio at Datz Press)

Soon after my book was published, the manager at Datz Press introduced me to Book Arts Foundation that was looking for one more artist for a book fair. In February, “encounters” was displayed at Codex Book Fair in San Francisco Bay Area. A day before the book fair opening, Photo Alliance was having a symposium on photo books. Ms. Joo invited me to accompany her to San Francisco to attend Photo Alliance and Codex Book Fair. I went and it was great!

"encounters" exhibited at Book Arts Foundation booth of Codex Book Fair (Feb 8-11, 2015)

“encounters” exhibited at Book Arts Foundation booth of Codex Book Fair (Feb 8-11, 2015)

Now I am interning for Ms. Joo who assigned me to work on a project for Datz Museum of Art and Magazine Gitz. Both are planned for debut in October. The theme centers around Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. For the project, I have been reading and researching on Thoreau, Emerson, and John Muir. Since I feel a kinship with nature which reflects in my work, these readings are inspirational. I am enlightened by great minds of 19th and 20th century that have ever more relevance in our contemporary life.

Henry David Thoreau "Walden" or, Life in the Woods" (1854)

Henry David Thoreau “Walden” or, Life in the Woods” (1854)

In May, Datz Museum of Art will host an exhibition with five women artists who published books with Datz Press. The curator selected few of my prints from “Nightwalker” installation and my book will be on display as well.

Looking back, it is amazing to see how one thing led to another.

sharing my experience with solo shows and a book publication (part 2)

In late August 2014, I had a chance to collaborate with Jane Kim, a Korean violinist based in New Jersey. A gallerist who saw my work at the Fountain Art Fair in March thought that my photographs would work well with classical music. I made two slideshows to play before and after the first program and a video that was projected while Jane played Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

Since the collaboration was for one night only (August 30), I was looking for a gallery for a solo show. Around that time, I met a Korean gallerist who came to New York for an art fair. A few days later, I ran into her at a Lower East Side gallery and asked if she could recommend me galleries that would be suitable to show my work. She invited me to exhibit at her gallery, Gallery Now because she saw my work in 2011 and then in 2014.

For my solo exhibition at Nabi Museum of the Arts, I displayed my hand-made artist book, “encounters,” which is a 276-inch long accordion book. When the second solo exhibition was scheduled, I was determined to make it about self-publishing books. It was challenging to find a publisher who would do such a laborious job.

Long Island City-based photographer Jungjin Lee advised me to contact Sangyon Joo, the founder of Datz Press which specializes in small edition artist books. I met Ms. Joo in early December and she decided to publish my book in an edition of 100. Since I did most of the design before and there were only few additions, we were able to move forward fairly quickly.

On December 28, I flew to Korea and installed the exhibition next day. The opening reception was on December 30. Despite the holiday season, (In Korea, people celebrate the end of year for almost the whole month of December) I had good number of visitors. I also gave an artist talk which was well attended. My work was featured in February 2015 issue of Photo Plus magazine in Korea.

During the exhibition period (December 30-January 6), I went to the gallery everyday to meet with visitors. In Korea, most photographic works are framed or mounted so people were interested in seeing photo installation with sound. There is something about solo exhibitions that brings viewers much closer to me.

"Nightwalker" installation view Gallery Now, Seoul, Korea

“Nightwalker” installation view at Gallery Now, Seoul, Korea (Dec 30, 2014-Jan 6, 2015)

"Nightwalker" installation view Gallery Now, Seoul, Korea

“Nightwalker” installation view at Gallery Now, Seoul, Korea (Dec 30, 2014-Jan 6, 2015)

"encounters" artist book published by Datz Press in the edition of 100

“encounters” artist book published by Datz Press in edition of 100

sharing my experience with solo shows and a book publication (part 1)

After returning from a week-long spring break, I will be taking over the ICP-Bard MFA blog this week. My name is Minny Lee, one of the first-year students. Last summer before I began ICP-Bard MFA Program, I was scheduled to have two solo shows for the fall and winter of 2014. I didn’t post about them here because it felt like self promotion but when I conveyed this feeling to our chair Nayland Blake he suggested that sharing my experience might be helpful for others.

Everything that happened was a long chain of events. One thing always led to another..

My first solo show was at the Nabi Museum of the Arts (October 3-November 14, 2014). It is a newly created gallery space inside of the World of Wings in Teaneck, New Jersey. A few months earlier in May, the gallery director Julie Jang organized a silent auction to benefit doctors working in remote areas in Africa. Supposedly the single night event was turned into a group show for a month. At the end, Ms. Jang invited me to have a solo show in October.

I proposed to have an installation of my work entitled, “Nightwalker”, which was previously shown at two group shows in New York. Images from “Nightwalker” are drawn from the “Encounters” series, a group of images which I consider as portraits of trees. I printed them onto 44×60-inch rice paper and hung them from the ceiling while playing a sound recording from nature. Ms. Jang’s gallery was great to exhibit “Nightwalker” because it had a high ceiling and ample space. For this location, I added a video of the sea at night that I made in Norway.

It was difficult to balance my MFA studies and a solo exhibition but I managed to have an opening reception, artist talk, and closing reception. Giving an hour-long artist talk was especially helpful for me to organize and talk about my work from the past six years, since graduating from ICP’s One-year Certificate Program. I went to the gallery each weekend and met with visitors. Some people visited multiple times and brought friends and families.

You can watch “Nightwalker” installation video at Nabi Museum of Arts HERE.

In conjunction with the exhibition, I got interviewed by Mom & I magazine, a monthly periodical that focuses on art and culture in New York metro area. Six-page spread with my tree photographs and interview article became useful resource for visitors to my exhibition in Korea few months later. In early December, Ms. Jang also included me in a group show at the Belskie Museum of Art and Science in Closter, New Jersey where I exhibited photographs from Norway.


"Nightwalker" exhibition at Nabi Museum of the Arts

“Nightwalker” exhibition at Nabi Museum of the Arts (Oct 3-Nov 14, 2014)

Artist Talk at Nabi Museum of Arts (Oct 18, 2014). I passed around my camera, Pentax 67II.

Artist Talk at Nabi Museum of Arts (Oct 18, 2014)

(Above, I passed around my Pentax 67II camera that I used to photograph most of “Encounters” series. During my artist talk, I displayed hand-made artist books on the table.)


Richards-Rosebud-7  6_jamesrichards_rosebud_9cd3a3_mljames-richards Richards-Turner


James Richards’ video, Rosebud, greets the viewer at the entrance to the MoMA show, Cut to Swipe, currently on view in New York. The exhibition includes recent acquisitions by the Department of Media and Performance Art that appropriate and manipulate images and sound drawn from a wide range of media. Created in 2013, Richards’ black-and-white video is installed on a large flat-screen monitor that is angled in the room towards the door. Rather than being mounted to a wall, the display is on a stand and assumes its own presence in the space.

Richards interweaves his own sumptuous imagery, some of which was taken with an underwater camera, with footage from a Tokyo library where censors scratched out the genitalia of nude photographs in books of Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray and Wolfgang Tillmans. At just under thirteen minutes, Richards’ video takes the viewer on a seductive ride that includes scenes of elderflower teasingly dragged along a puckering anus, the hands and arms of a woman rolling along a floor and appropriated flickering images of parakeets that give the sense of taking flight. This work succinctly embodies the curatorial conceit of this show as it mingles the 20th-century strategies of collage and montage with dazzling digital production.

Richards, a British artist living and working in Berlin, was nominated for the Turner prize in 2014 for Rosebud. In a short video interview made in tandem with his nomination, he discusses the piece and his working methods. He had been shooting with an underwater camera and was interested in the way it refracted and distorted images. Later, after accidentally coming upon the censored images, he wanted to find a way to combine them with his original footage. Although the imagery is largely of the material world, he compares his use of it to abstract sculpture or painting. He then explains that how the images become the thing around which he starts composing the audio and he regards the imagery as having the same malleability as sound.

The video feels like a meditation on desire and the pleasure of looking. It includes many excruciatingly tight shots that linger over details that we usually push past. Throughout, he creates wonderful linkages like the wrinkles of foreskin with the lines in a woodcut illustration. The viewer is aware of Richards’ sensitivity in handling the overabundance of imagery because never once does s/he feel overwhelmed; instead, Richards invites the viewer into a rhythmic experience that continues to unfold and suggests unlimited possibility. The overall effect is akin to a masterful mix tape made by a friend that includes the gems from his personal collection.