Los Angeles Art Book Fair

Huzzah for the migration(/return?) of art to the west. My MFA program is full of New York transplants, all in constant praise and awe of Los Angeles, like some secret had been kept from them. As my friend Emerson puts it, “LA is where you go to make art, New York is where you go to sell it.” This may or may not be  true, but something is happening over here and I’m not completely upset about it.

Much has been made of this past weekend’s Art Book Fair. It certainly seemed to hold the pulse of the Los Angeles “printed matter” art scene. I am quite surprised that something like this hadn’t already been established, but I am thrilled to have attended the first one. As my professor wrote on facebook- “Three cheers for AA Bronson!” (with whom I passed several times and exchanged a glance or two…I felt so homo-fan-boy-tastic).

In discussing the fair with a Dutch photographer friend of mine, he asked me if it was like every other event he’d been to in New York, Paris, and Berlin; “Everyone there just trying to network, make themselves famous, prove that they’re worth something.” It was after this comment that I realized why the book fair left my friends and I feeling like were at Disneyland for art-kids: the book fair was about nothing if not access and community.

We weren’t looking at pieces that had descended from Mount Olympus, on display for a moment before being sealed up into some billionaire’s guest bathroom. These were the descendants of the DIY revolution. They had independent presses, public access radio shows, and quarterlies printed on household objects. They printed t-shirts and buttons on-site. They weren’t huddled into someone’s garage, they were at MOCA (though a garage show would also I have been rad). I think, most importantly, for me and my MFA crew, it’s that they were just as excited to hear about our work as we were to talk about theirs. They were more likely to hand us a card and insist that we submit or collaborate than they were to try to sell us something. We left feeling like rockstars because we knew that, next year, it was no stretch of the imagination to say that we’d probably have a table of our own. 

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