On Sunday I visited the Whitechapel Gallery for the London Art Book Fair, a three day free event in which 90 publishers, rare book dealers, galleries, magazines, universities and small presses are housed under one roof to present their latest books with up to 40% off discounts.
The location of the Whitechapel Gallery made a perfect venue. Traditional architecture mixed with light contemporary decor, high ceilings and an assortment of open plan spaces made way for relaxing viewing and easy navigation. The rare book dealer stalls were my favourite, little tables crammed full of all sorts of vintage, hard to find editions and magazines, all in immaculate condition considering their age and yet still retaining that sepia toned quality that allowed their history to shine through.
The independent stalls presented a gold-mine of unique subject matters and print / binding styles. One in particular caught my attention that consisted of a collection of A6 size hand bound hard back books, each covering the author / artist’s interpretation of different art movements throughout history – including categories of concrete and visual poetry, surrealism and dada which would have tied in perfectly with my practical brief.
If my bank balance had no limits, I could easily have spent the best part of £500, alas I remained sensible and narrowed my purchases to just one.
Said purchase was from a series of publications commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery itself based on Documents of Contemporary Art. The collection includes titles labelled ‘beauty’, ‘colour’, ‘participation’ and ‘utopias’. With no images included, these publications are centered purely on the theoretical side of art and design, exploring the major themes and ideas that have helped to fuel the industry over the last few centuries.
The title I picked up was ‘chance’. The blurb is included below:
‘Chance, The spontaneous, unexpected or random event is a vital component in numerous works of Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus and conceptual photography. And the camera snapshot seems intrinsically implicated in the workings of chance. But why today does chance remain a key strategy in artist’s investigations into the contemporary world? This anthology analyses the meaning of these strategic spaces of uncertainty, poised between intention and outcome, and provides a new critical context for chance procedures in art since 1900.’
With artist analysis and surveys of the likes of John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Walead Beshty and Yoko Ono, the theoretical topics covered will feed into my practical brief, and underpin the direction of the initial visual experiments I make.
An exciting find, and for £13.46 precisely, a bargain one too.
Did anyone else attend this event? Were you inspired to make a few purchases? Leave a comment!
On a different note, how amazing is this hotel !
If only this was a little closer to home. (This hotel is located somewhere in Asia, can’t remember exactly where)