At the recommendation of my don, I spent last Saturday at the MoMA PS1’s annual NY Art Book Fair. The event, which takes place over the course of one weekend every year, is located in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens at an exhibition space affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art.
The 2014 Art Book Fair featured over 350 vendors, selling everything from zines to comic books to prints to literary magazines and much more. The sheer number of different tables was quite overwhelming; especially the ones located within the two outdoor tents, and the heat made navigating the fair even more daunting.
I went into the event with an open mind but no clear strategy as to how I should approach the different booths. The tables, staffed by representatives from the publishing companies or collectives, typically displayed a number of their products, which attendants could pick up and look through. The idea of looking at the books right in front of their sellers intimidated me, especially since I went to the fair determined not to purchase anything. Most of the products were made and published by independent presses; so many of the books that I looked through would not be affordable for the typical college student. Still, I enjoyed the experience of winding through the narrow spaces between vendors and taking in all of the different forms of creativity. Exhibitors travelled from all over the world, and as a result, there was a great breadth of diverse material to look at.
A number of these exhibitors made an impression on me. For example, I loved the prints and photographs of Girlfriends Zines, a project curated by Israel based Dafy Hagai that focuses on photographic work by females. I also liked T&M Projects, a Tokyo based publishing house established in 2014 that aims to publish “works transcending generations, disciplines, and political and cultural perspectives”. One book they were showcasing was “Photographs, Tsunami, and Then”, which was based on a project to reunite photographs found in the wreckage of a tsunami to their owners. If you would like to know more about the exhibitors that attended the book fair, you can find a complete list of the different exhibitors here: http://nyartbookfair.com/exhibitors/
Above all else, the atmosphere of the NY Art Book Fair made for perfect people-watching opportunities. Over 27,000 people attended the 2013 fair, and this year there were definitely a plethora of stylish and eccentric patrons in attendance. The exhibitors, many of whom are artists themselves, had an infectious passion for the work they were showing. I plan on attending the fair next year, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys art and supporting small presses. My one piece of advice is to think of what types of exhibits you would like to see in advance and dedicate more than two hours to it so that you can take the time to appreciate the multitude of work around you.