Great news for all of us who make visual images that are not computer screen-based. The New York Art Book Fair recently ended it’s sixth year at MOMA PS1 in Queens, NY with 370 booksellers, distribution companies, zines, and artist-run publishing houses from 30 countries. If you think printed matter attracts just baby boomers, think again. The median age of people coming out for this print show was anywhere from 20 to 35. Here, sorting through works on paper, were two or three generations of young people who have grown up with computers. The Printed Matter Inc. located in New York city, has on its website the following definition of the artist book: “Unlike an art book, catalog or monograph that tend to showcase artworks created in another medium, the term ‘artists’ books’ refers to publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right. These ‘projects for the page’ are generally inexpensive, often produced in large or open editions, and are democratically available.
The book is a medium that allows an artist's work to be accessible to a multitude of people in different locations at any given time. The more copies produced the more widely the work can be distributed; it is this potential to reach a larger audience that lends the book its social qualities and increases it’s political possibilities. In this way, the artists’ book can be an incredibly powerful communicative force. The simplicity of a book that is small in scale, costs relatively little to produce, and is easily replicable allows the work to flow outside of mainstream channels and reach an audience without institutional or commercial consent. The artists’ book offers a criticism of and alternative to these systems by circumventing them." Exciting times for those who love paper, print and images and the ability to hold a work of art in their hands.