PANEL DISCUSSION: Publishing in times of alternative art and design education
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Hear the whole discussion from the discussion from Friday 20th at Ventriloquist Radio! Supported by Grafill Bergen and Stavanger!

About the discussion:
More alternative education models and initiatives are being founded and organised across the globe now more than ever – including, but not limited to, summer schools, residency programs and independent graduate programs. But how is the discourses and curriculum produced in these initiative spread and documented?

We are currently in the midts of an international educational crisis in the arts. Distrust towards higher education is growing – due in parts to increased tuition fees, quantitive measuring models and questioning of the role of the academy today.

In light of BABF we will be looking at the relation between alternative education models and publishing. What role does the publication play for alternative education models in design and the arts, and how can publishing documents or spread the discourse produced within them?

The panel consists of:
Joe Potts, founder of Southland Institute
Geir Haraldseth, director of Rogaland Kunstsenter and founder of Sommerskolen/Independent Study Program
Connie Butler, founder of Nomadic Reading Room
Benjamin Hickethier, part of the collective Fazed Grunion, which grew out of a Summer Design Academy with the Design Displacement Group at the Jan van Eyck Academie.

The panel is curated and moderated by Kristina Ketola Bore, co-founder of The Ventriloquist Summerschool.

Bergen Zines

Be sure to check out our gallery from this years fair!

Bergen Art Book Fair team would like to thank all 50 publishers/artists/designers/poets/institutions participating at this years fair and program, all of our wonderful volunteers that we couldn't have lived without, Bergen Kunsthall and Landmark for hosting us and all the visitors that almost doubled in numbers compared to last year!

This was a great year because of all of you, thank you and hope to see you again next year!

BABF team 2017: from left: Alexandra, Mads, Ingrid, Fredrik, Anki and Raquel

BABF team 2017: from left: Alexandra, Mads, Ingrid, Fredrik, Anki and Raquel

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As I’m writing this, the book fair is about to end. There’s lots of people at Kunsthallen still, but only one hour left to browse and buy books.

Friday evening, I was attempting to describe to someone what I like so much about art book fairs. One thing I realized then, is that an art book fair has the power to really transform a space. It can turn an old, empty building into a flourishing art space, but it can also make a formal white-cube gallery feel like a buzzing marketplace. I love Bergen Kunsthall the rest of the year, too, but during Bergen Art Book Fair it almost feels like a second home: a place where I can easily stay the whole day, alternating between chatting with friends, looking at books, eating at Landmark and drinking wine while listening to inspiring people talk about their work. 

After last year’s BABF I wrote a text for the Norwegian magazine NUMER, trying to explain how an art book fair can make a place like Bergen Kunsthall feel more spacious. It makes room for creative people of all kinds, and creates a context where participants can place themselves in-between labels. This year, I’ve been thinking about how it feels to be a visitor at Bergen Art Book Fair. I’m sure the fair can come across as chaotic and hectic, specially if it’s your first encounter. But at the same time, this setting seems to make people feel relaxed and… safe? Yes, I think safe is the right word. During my years working as a receptionist at Bergen Kunsthall, I’ve seen many people feel quite unsafe in these exact rooms. And of course: Contemporary art is not always «safe», and it’s not necessarily supposed to be. New experiences are often uncomfortable. Still, I hope that the low-key, friendly and playful atmosphere of the art book fair will make an imprint on it’s visitors, and that it will expand their notion of the art world. Perhaps they’ll even feel like the white halls of Bergen Kunsthall are a bit more theirs, next time they visit.



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I want to start off this cloudy yet beautiful Sunday, the last day of the fair, by telling you about a couple of brand new publications. 

Jessica Willams' book lunch

Jessica Willams' book lunch

A new concept for Bergen Art Book Fair this year has been their book lunches. At first glance, a book lunch might seem like a book launch with a typo. And honestly it is a book launch, just held in a very casual, friendly setting, where the book is being (verbally) served along with a snack that goes with the book’s theme. Yesterday around lunchtime, a handful of friends and strangers gathered around a long table upstairs in Bergen Kunsthall. There, Jessica Williams showed us her new artist’s book Å finne stemmen (Finding ones voice). In addition to the book, she brought home made rhubarb whine, and she had asked the kitchen-team at Landmark to make us something bittersweet. 


Å finne stemmen is a complex book, both thematically and technically. Jessica herself has riso-printed, cut, sewn and glued the whole edition by hand, as a part of her riso-recidency at Pamflett in Bergen. In short, it’s subject matter is the process of being integrated in a new country through learning the language. In the book Jessica shares reflections and stories from her own journey towards becoming a Norwegian citizen. In the mid part of the book, she asked friends of different nationalities to contribute. The result is a captivating book in a mix of English and Norwegian, that is sometimes sad, sometimes funny and overall thought provoking. When it comes to layout and materials, it is full of clever solutions and beautiful details. Get a feel of it yourself at Jessica’s stand (it’s even sold at a special price during the fair).


In addition to the book lunch yesterday, several ordinary launches were held (even though they continued in a rather intimate format). First, illustrator and writer Åshild Kanstad Johnsen and architect Ben Wu (on behalf of Northing) talked about the publication Habitat, which was made in August, during the project China meets Norway in a bookshelf. I’ve written extensively about the project and it’s participants before, hereHabitat was made in Shanghai, during a workshop together with Bananafish. There, Norwegian and Chinese artists and designers worked together making images that reflected their notion of the term ‘habitat’. The images were then riso-printed (so much riso this year!) and bound together as an all-image publication.

Habitat  launch led by Åshild and Ben

Habitat launch led by Åshild and Ben

Then BLOKK forlag, a small Oslo-based publishing house (not to be confused with the Bergen-based studio collective BLOKK), presented their new fanzine by Åge Peterson. BLOKK was established just one year ago, and is run by Anja Dahle Øverbye and Ingrid Flognfeldt Brubaker. BLOKK’s mission is mainly to publish comics, fanzines and artist’s books (comics being their main genre so far, both in fanzine and book form). Åge’s fanzine is called Kjært, fælt og sirkulært. He had a very specific formal starting point for this project: in every square of the grid framing his drawings, he placed a circle. This circle had to be incorporated in each drawing. That way, not only the drawing, but the whole narrative of his story was limited and shaped by circles. For the first time, Åge experimented with incorporating personal experiences in his comic. Kjært, fælt og sirkulært is a wonderful, small riso-printed zine with a soft cover and rounded edges. 

Åge and his fresh zine

Åge and his fresh zine


After the presentation by BLOKK and Åge, the Norwegian art magazine BILLEDKUNST launched their most recent edition, which is about Bergen. On this occasion they arranged a panel discussion, where they elaborated on topics brought up in the magazine. The panel consisted of curator Anne Szefer Karlsen, Petter Snare, the new director of KODE, and ph.d.-literary scholar/freelance writer Kristoffer Jul-Larsen. The discussion was skillfully moderated by Tine Semb from Billedkunst. It was short but interesting; the panel trying to define the present state of the Bergen art scene - which Kristoffer suspects might be in the middle of a transition. Amongst other things, Anne and Petter discussed the responsibilities of the various art institutions in Bergen, when it comes to representing and accommodating the local art scene. If this sounds intriguing, I recommend you get your copy of Billedkunst, they sell it at BABF. 


I sadly missed Saturday’s last launch, where Myclef Laun of Portmanteau Books presented a film trailer for FLUNG RAZOR II. But I suggest you go visit his stand at BABF, conversing with him is always interesting :) 

Even today there's a book lunch and several launches. First off is  Ying Chieh Liu from Taiwan, who will present several new books + a snack at 12 o’clock. Then from 1pm and onwards there will be launches by Kay Arne Kirkebø (NO), Performance Art Bergen (NO), Gunvor Rasmusson (NO) and Xiong Liang (China). Enjoy!


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Maite Claveau, the project leader and coordinator of Tijuana. 

Maite Claveau, the project leader and coordinator of Tijuana. 

The second BABF participant I want to introduce you to, is Tijuana. Tijuana is an art book project with it’s base in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The whole thing started when Eduardo Brandao, the director of the art gallery Vermelho, realized that a lot of artists around him worked with the book format - and yet there were not many suitable spaces to display that book work. So he simply put up some shelves in Vermelho, thus establishing a showing room/book store for artist’s publications. In short that was the beginning of Tijuana. This was in 2007. In 2009, Tijuana arranged their own art book fair, which has now become a yearly event: the Tijuana Printed Art Fair. And in 2010, they even became a publishing house, again with artist’s books as their focal point. Many of the books they publish are by artists from Sao Paolo or other areas of Brazil, but even artists from other countries - Colombia and Argentina, for example. Their publications are printed in editions from 10 to 500. That means that Tijuana distribute everything from precious, hard-to-get-hold-of artists' books to mass produced publications (well, you know, mass produced in the context of independent publishing). 


In 2013, Tijuana actually moved their book shelves from the inside to the outside of Vermelho. Outside the gallery they built a variation of the newsstand. The newsstand is not such a common architectural structure in Norway, but you’ll find this kind of small kiosk in a lot in other countries and specially in big cities. However, Tijuana's newsstand sells artists’ books and zines instead of newspapers and magazines. I love that concept, because it seems to make the publications very visible and accessible (not only for visitors of the gallery but also for people randomly walking by). Furthermore, it seems to underline the fact that artists' publications are often "inbetween-objects": at the same time connected to and independent of the art institution. 

Make sure to check out Tijuana’s stand at BABF! Maite Claveau, who is the project leader and coordinator of Tijuana, will be there to show you the publications that they brought. Maite is even giving a talk tonight at 6pm, make sure you catch it!


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