RWM – Staples and Ink. Some reflections on the small press boom in the art world

Staples and Ink
Some reflections on the small press boom in the art world
30.01.2017 (58′ 15”)

Featuring interviews with Kit Hammonds and Bernhard Cella

Independent publishing is experiencing a boom in the art world. The vitality and ubiquity of small artist-editions has gone hand in hand with a proliferation of sometimes highly imaginative micro-fairs and other spaces for sharing, connection, dissemination and distribution.

Post-internet technological development has accompanied this latest stage in the emancipation of the book. Leaving behind its quintessential role as a conveyor of ideas, the book becomes a space for expression, a blank page freed from the responsibility of representing ‘reality’. The increasing affordability and accessibility of means of production, maker culture, and the revival of craft and DIY have favoured the boom, which revives and updates the tradition that emerged in the late-sixties, of conceptual artists’ books as an autonomous, democratic space.

Today’s independent publications maintain and strengthen their links to non-objectual, immaterial art as idea and action, although they tend to stay away from the political potential that once characterised the world of the small press, in favour of the shifting sands of the fashionable.

Before the bubble bursts, we speak to Kit Hammonds and Bernhard Cella about the boom, the recovery of supposedly obsolete printing techniques, the risk-aversion of institutional art collections, about professionalisation and about digital generation. We also look at some of the strategies they have used to explore the medium, which range from placing the book at the centre of the exhibition space, to inventing bizarre taxonomies, turning stolen books into artworks, and being seduced by the eroticism of publication raves.