The intention to start “CONTEMPORARY (ART BOOK) review/archive” [C (AB) r/a] is based on understanding the current state of books and art books and personal awareness of the issues. I would like to write more details on this blog or on the C (AB) r site, but before the opening of the preparatory exhibition #000, I will explain it briefly based on my awareness of the problem and the correspondence in C (AB) r/a.
1 ― [Until maturity: unconditional activation → → → After maturity: introduction of curation and criticism to improve literacy]
As a reference point, compared to 2009, when the 1st “Tokyo Art Book Fair” was held, now, ten years later, the number of authors and enthusiasts of art books has increased markedly, and the market and community have reached a certain maturity. In the early stages of scene formation, the most important thing was to increase the absolute number of acts of creating and publishing, but in the future, we believe that the introduction of active curation and criticism will rather activate scenes. From now on, I think it is not unnatural for art books to aim at improving the literacy of creators and buyers and the quality of their products as one cultural domain.
C (AB) r/a introduces curation, criticism. However, we take the position that the evaluation is not absolute, but is a judgment from one particular point of view among various possibilities (As I will explain later).
2 ― [Diffusion of concepts related to art books → → → Differentiation into various specialized fields: C (AB) r/a goes to the perspective of books as form, structure, and things]
The vague term “art book” can be said to have formed a mixed scene by encouraging participation from various peripheral areas. It certainly played a part in the revitalization. However, when introducing curation and criticism, I think it is necessary to analyze the field of art books objectively. For example, monographs of famous artists printed by a large gallery in a large number, a book made by the individual artist him/herself in a small number… I think they are fundamentally different even though the content is art in common. A collection of the works edited by the publisher of the Little Press. A book which itself is a performance. A book which is made as an object. Various approaches to the book are included in this one word. On the other hand, I believe that rather than narrowing down areas by excluding certain subareas from the expanded area of art books, the entire expanded area will be divided into unique subareas, each of which will develop into a specialized activity, which will lead to the further revitalization and improved literacy. I also think that the more diverse the differentiation, the richer the art book as a cultural field will become. The already existing fairs are one form of this differentiation. Also, many fairs are set up by genre of expressions such as pictures and illustrations. I appreciate them.
C (AB) r/a focuses on the format and structure of the book itself, among other attributes that can be extracted from an art book. We will explore the “modernity” of books in the post-digital age and create a forum for discussion while appreciating their appeal as tangible objects.
3 ― [Absence of accumulation of information and collection →→→ Aim for general information storage in small differentiated areas: CONTEMPORARY (ART BOOK) archive]
I often hear from foreign researchers and book fair organizers that there is no comprehensive book or archive in English even if they want to know about Japanese art books. For example, “Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989 – 2017” in last year at Kunstohare Wien, an anthological exhibition of art books from the Internet onward, had no Asian perspective at all. In the United States, I have seen several universities and art museum libraries have the categories with names such as “Special Collections” that collect book arts and art books that are not sold in general bookstores, but I have never heard of such a specialized collection in Japan. Even now that the scene has grown, there is a high probability that excellent Japanese art books, as research subjects, will remain unknown to the world.
In the “archive” part of C (AB) r/a, even though comprehensive collection is not possible, we collect art books from a unique, differentiated point of view and accumulate it on the web. It becomes a relay point: for publishers to sell, for researchers to get bibliographic information. In particular, we mainly use English notation for the convenience of people from overseas. In addition, we will work with partners in neighboring countries in Asia to collect items that match the purpose of the collection and aim to function as an Asian relay point for Western Europe.
4 ― [Enlargement of book fairs: Occupied intensive events for art/book lovers → → → Parasitic-diffusional-events with small exhibition sets, connections to other manufacturing genres: CONTEMPORARY (ART BOOK) review]
I’m sure that many small publishers have established in many cities around the world, individuals who make their own books are increasing as a typical phenomenon of the post-digital age. Exhibitors and applicants have been increasing in fairs in many big cities, and it is the same for visitors. However, it is also true that its growing size is depriving people of the experience of careful searching for their favorite books or careful confronting them.
The “review” part of C (AB) r/a is an exhibition event that takes place diffusely in time and space, in which we make a light package of about 20-30 books and travels around Japan for one year renting a part of an existing facility. Also, we sell at the venue actively. In addition to the continuous tour of the books collected each year, we would also set up an exhibition from a different viewpoint cross the annual framework. The venue will not only local fairs and bookstores, but also general goods, fashion and interior shops. It has become clear that books as a result of the elaborate craftsmanship that C (AB) r/a focuses on could often be out of interest to general book lovers, but rather are of interest to people involved in other genres of craftsmanship, such as products, furniture, clothing, and jewelry.