At the tail end of September, over 26,000 people flooded to New York’s MoMA PS1 for the annual New York Art Book Fair, presented by Printed Matter. This year’s fair took place from September 26–28, 2014 and highlighted over 350 publishers, independent art spaces, institutions, and artists from over 28 countries, with a special section of the fair dedicated specifically to the rich practice of art book publishing in Norway.
Though by no means a complete survey of the field, the Norwegian focus of the fair, titled KUNSTNERBØKER, presented a wonderful cross section of institutions and independent publishers in Norway with a curated selection of 26 Norwegian booksellers. Throughout the three-day event, thousands of visitors were exposed to the Norwegian cultural field through readings, book launches, exhibitions, performances, and a special room devoted to art book publishing in the region.
In the weeks since the NYABF’s closing, the 2014 version of the fair has taken a large amount of criticism for allowing the amped-up party atmosphere of this year’s fair to overshadow the reason for the fair itself; the books. The DJs, beer stands, and pressing crowds did make browsing for books a daunting task. However the Norwegian focus of the fair, housed in a separate section of the museum just left of the entrance on the first floor, managed to interweave a light atmosphere with serious consideration of the publications at hand.
On Saturday afternoon, Stavanger-born Tor Erik Bøe and the collective Trollkrem orchestrated a series of performances with invited Norwegian and international artists. Performing artists included Jason Martin, Actually Huizenga, Easter, Tyler Matthew Oyer/TMO, Natalie Weiss, Trollkrem, Lisa Lie, and others. Self-described as ‘flamboyant and weird,’ the performances took place on the steps and stage leading up the entrance of PS1. Each performer brought with them their own specific music and text-based material, which was then compiled to follow the narratives of popular Scandinavian folklore.
Later in the evening, artists Eline Mugaas and Elise Storsveen (who recently curated Hold Steinhårdt Fast På Greia Di at Kunsthall Stavanger) celebrated the launch of ALBUM, a compilation of the last 10 issues of their ongoing collage zine. The publication consists entirely of found images that the artists have been collecting and composing since they started working together in 2008. The decadent, humorous, and wryly sexual juxtaposition of images garnered much attention throughout the fair and drew wide from the press, including first mention in the New York Times Magazine.
Other highlighted Norwegian projects included Apis Press, Bergen Art Book Fair / Robot, Bergen Kunsthall / INK, Bergen Zines, Cornerkiosk Press, Feil Forlag, FRANK, Fukt Magazine, HEAVY Books, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Hordaland Art Centre Bookshop, Jessica Williams + Friends, Kuk + Parfyme / Trollkrem and Yngvild K. Rolland, Kunsthall Oslo, Kurt Johannessen, Morten Andersen / Shadowlab, Multipress, Sturla Heggdalsvik: ROV Publication Series, Teknisk Industri AS, and Torpedo Bookshop / Torpedo Press.
The KUNSTNERBØKER section of the New York Art Book Fair was created with support from the Norwegian Consulate General in New York. To read more about the New York Art Book Fair, visit their website, here.