Publishing Class I & II (2010-2012)
Publishing Class is a two year programme designed for the Dutch Art Institute / MFA ArtEZ by Casco Office for Art, Design and Theory, delving into the act of publishing through and within artistic practice in close examination of shifting artistic practice and its forms. Towards recognizing the trajectory of this programme we ask:
Who in the process of publishing are the agents, and what stakes are involved? Given the typical (small) scale of artistic publication and considering that a radical effect of publication is the production of the public, what can we consider as publishing’s social and political role? At the root of these questions, it is proposed here to interrogate the question of who publishes and for what? Where do these questions position artists and their motives? In light of such questions, perhaps it is useful to consider that there is such a thing as a publishing class (related to the so-called creative class). If the banner (a banner being a form of publication, a sign) of the creative/publishing class is taken up as a position by artistic practitioners, what and/or who is this for/against? After all, signs are born out of conflict—the need to identify and distinguish. Through the act of artistic publishing is it possible to get a sense of this position, and where might we situate an antagonism?
Observations from this year’s New York Art Book Fair offer that artistic publishing is seeing an upsurge in activity and interest in spite of the impending dematerialization of publishing, and in spite of symptoms of the crisis of dematerialized capital. Could it be then that the claim that “print is dead” is exposed as merely the fading whisper of a class of mass-publishers/mass-public? What space then remains in the wake of the modern publication? What resources and relations can be mobilized to fill that space? Is the evident interest in alternative forms of exchange displayed at the NYABF a response? Is it adequate? Besides, what are we referring to when we say ‘artistic publishing?’ Does it have something to do with the scale of production and publicity? Or is this a qualitative differentiation? Perhaps these questions are more inter-related than we might assume.
Publishing Class III: How to Live Together (2012/2013)
Inspired by Roland Barthes’ How to Live Together, Publishing Class III focuses on writing as a tool for critical publishing and as a conduit of community. Traversing the realms of art and life, the class locates artistic writing or non-writing at the heart of art publishing. The programme also draws from Barthes’ antagonistic literary delineations of “readerly text” and “writerly text”. Critically placed in opposition, “readerly text” leaves no room for new meaning and is, instead, preoccupied with the act of consumption whilst “writerly text” makes the reader a producer of new forms of work. Amongst the current plethora of information and publications, producing the latter seems to be an urgent task. Publishing Class III approaches “writerly text” as an outcome of speculative thinking, which forms visionary knowledge or so-called “theory.” Consequently, the “class” will explore the nature of artistic writing—theory and knowledge––and the question of authorship.
The concept for Publishing Class III – How to Live Together is developed out of the previous editions of Publishing Class. The first edition experimented with collective publishing, and resulted in a participant-initiated journal series –Spencer’s Island— which narrowcasted to a community on a small Canadian island, with whom the participating students had no direct contact. Spencer’s Island experimented with modes of communication as well as group work. The second edition was dedicated to publishing with fidelity to both individual artistic practices and the collaborative working environment (what we called the editorial cooperative). This edition operated in an intensive collaboration with graphic designers from the Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem. Publishing Class II resulted in 13 singular, small book editions, the majority as projects in themselves that integrated personal essays and fiction writing. For the third edition, we refocus our attention towards collective efforts through publishing a book that also accommodates experiments with both individual and collective “writing.” The third edition is also accompanied by monthly guest lectures, face-to-face meetings, seminars on methods of speculative thinking and writing, and occasional workshops covering practical knowledge for publishing.
Publishing Class IV: Community in Print (2013/2014)
Community in Print focuses on serial publishing inspired by art-publishing enterprises that were for the most part in series form: from magazines prevalent in the 1970s like the American counterculture catalog, published by writer Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog or the collective General Idea’s FILE magazine, to more contemporary examples such as artist, critic, philosopher, and writer workgroup Chto Delat’s newspaper that takes the name of the collective, the bilingual magazine Pages, which looks into the Iranian context and initiated by Nasrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi or artist Can Atlay’s journal Ahali. What is significantly in common among them, are their self-institutional agency. Be the vehicle a journal, magazine, or periodical, they offer a space for ongoing, self-disciplinary practices of artistic research. This space, in turn, forms a community of readers and interferes in existing cultural spheres. We call upon the participants in the DAI program to develop their own magazine or any form of serial publication—with the first edition launched over the course of the 10 months of sessions. This inherently evolves in tandem with establishing a form of long-term inquiry, which we find essential to singular artistic practices. The emphasis is also given to the operation of feedback into communities with whom the publications try to engage. The students are thereby encouraged to exchange with their readership, fostering a generous network of ideas and activities. In this manner, publishing is understood as a “tool” of self-education and self-constituency that can be used in the development of communities.
Community in Print is steered by monthly guest tutors including: MoMA librarian David Senior, art historian Gwen Allen, artist Can Altay (Ahali), critic and curator Benjamin Thorel (castillo/corralles), artist Ricardo Basbaum with designer Will Holder Nasrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi (Pages). It continues to collaborate with the Werkplaats Typografie in designing publications.
Publishing Class V: Inland (2014/2015)
Publishing Class V: INLAND invites Dutch Art Institute (DAI) and Werkplaats Typografie (WT) participants to engage with a para-institution for the duration of one year with Spanish artist Fernando García-Dory as core tutor. Publishing Class V: INLAND aims to understand the formulation of post-capitalist ways of living together and the politics of representation as a cultural strategy for empowerment. These issues are viewed through the lens of land, the countryside, the rural, and the commons; associated practices will be mediated and connected through publishing.
The course is allied with INLAND (since 2010), a mobile para-institution García-Dory set up to examine the role of territories, geopolitics, culture, and identity between city and countryside, art and agriculture. The course is furthermore connected to (Un)usual Business, Casco’s long-term inquiry into “community economies” which aims to bring hidden or undervalued economies and commoning practices to light (for more info on INLAND and (Un)usual Business click on the links below).
As the economic, environmental, and cultural model in which we live continues to collapse, people across the world are starting to realize that the lifestyle, dictated to them by capitalist governance, is no longer (and for many, never has been) fulfilling, meaningful, or even viable. The need to learn from historical resistance subjects and “commoning” practices (like the collective management of resources by peasant or indigenous communities) is therefore a worthwhile venture. Activist and theoretician Silvia Federici describes the commons as follows:
For me the idea of the commons is that of a society built on the principle of solidarity rather than the principle of self-interest and competition. It is a society in which wealth is shared, there is collective decision making, and production is for our wellbeing and not for monetary accumulation. So it would involve a radical change. I would not call it a take over, however. That society is still only on the horizon. But we can begin to create new types of relations.
Publishing Class III: How To Live Together book launch at the Casco Storefront, 2013
Publishing Class 2012 at the New York Art Book Fair
Publishing Class Kiosk at Facing Pages independent magazines biennale, 2014
Analphabet Orchestra Session 2: How to Live Together book launch
“Analphabet Orchestra are sessions of a group of people dividing their practice in two main situations. One is about talking about artistic processes (first intentions, transformations-if they are-, and results) and the other is playing music. In between and around those two, there is a place of comparisons, analogies and invisible sparkled facts for a common research.” (Larraitz Torres)
Publishing Class IV: Community in Print – David Senior, Fucking Good Art, Jan Dirk de Wilde & Sander Janzweert
A panel discussion featuring Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York bibliographer David Senior and editor of the travelling artists’ magazine Fucking Good Art (FGA) Nienke Terpsma with responses from Jan Dirk de Wilde of Extrapool and Amsterdam-based printer Sander Janzweert. The event is organised as part of the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) public lecture series.
Publishing Class IV: Community in Print – Gwen Allen
Art historian Gwen Allen introduces her directory Artists’ Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art (2011) along with some present-day case studies of artist magazines. The event is organised as part of the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) public lecture series.
DAI Publications was founded in 2003 by Gabriëlle Schleijpen, Head of Program at the DAI, where the Werkplaats Typografie was invited as an initial partner. The DAI and the Werkplaats Typografie, both located in Arnhem, are Master’s programs at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, one of the major arts universities in the Netherlands. Since its inception around 100 artists’ books have been published. Until 2011 an annually appointed collection editor supervised the series. From 2010 on, Casco developed a regular curriculum within the DAI structure, resulting in Publishing Class.