Subcultural mags and books that you should own copies of

SORT Studio raided Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair to find a selection of the world’s most subversive titles

Last month, Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair took over the city for two days with over 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from around the world – 28 countries to be exact. Unofficially representing London was SORT Studio’s Joseph Delaney and Matt King, who trekked the fair for the people behind the world’s most subversive mags and zines – and made a sort film about them.

RESEARCH: MODERN PRIMITIVES, V VALE, SAN FRANCISCO

“The father of American zine culture and a living legend, V. Vale is one of subculture's most important documentarians. The founder of Search & Destroy, a San Francisco-based zine capturing chaos on the front line of the punk scene, Vale's approach was as surprising as it was honest, positioning punk amidst of the web of cultural movements it was undeniably connected to at the time – calling on contributors from punk royalty to William Burroughs and J.G. Ballard. Still travelling the world with titles from his SF-based press RE/Search, a catalogue of every urban anthropological phenomenon you can dream up, his book Modern Primitives has stood the test of time, with images of body modification still eye-watering nearly three decades after it's initial release.”

MATTHEW BELLOSI, MENTAL FUMIGATION, AT LAST BOOKS, COPENHAGEN

“In an era of technological overload and image saturation, Philadelphia-born artist Matthew Bellosi's immense collection of hardcore flyers offer a graphic remedy.”

VALENTINE ABENAVOLI’S “THE HARVEST”, PART OF A TRILOGY, AKINA BOOKS, ISTANBUL

“Italian artist and Akina Books founder Valentina Abenavoli's three-part research explores empathy and the way we deal with violence. Following on from the first title in the series Anaesthesia, which looked to empathy as a collective experience through screenshots of documentaries about Syria, Iraq and Turkey, here empathy is explored in the most intimate context – navigating the subtle imbalance of power that occurs between two people: ‘It is the first spark, a glimmer of assumptions, the shivering, and the craving.’ Presented in a black box with a wooden frame, the dense black pages invite you into a realm of the most intimate sexual encounter.”

MATA’S NO DRUMS NO DJS NO SATURDAYS, HESSE PRESS, LOS ANGELES

“Sometimes you're told in passing of a time and a place that sounds like it's been dreamt up specifically for you. Mata, the subject of a book by Los Angeles-based publishers Hesse Press – who's singular template sees the publishers release two 64-page monographs on LA-based artists each year – was one of those places. Founded by artists Maria Garcia and Pat Murchan, for three short years, the small venue in Central Los Angeles hosted grinding noise performances and challenging art installations that filled the space with wires, soundboards, flickering TVs and displays that could easily be mistaken for car crash reconstructions.”

MIRON ZOWNIR’S BERLIN NOIR, POGO BOOKS, BERLINBOOK

“Berlin has long been a safe space for freaks to have fun, a place so shrouded in shadow its underbelly spills out into the streets through every club and darkroom door. For over 30 years, German photographer Miron Zownir has been capturing those fearless few daring to live a life of true, unconstrained freedom, collated here in Berlin Noir, released by Pogo Books.”

SLAVA MOGUTIN’S PICTURES & WORDS, STRAIGHT TO HELL

“‘An assemblage of poems, handwritten text’ and xeroxed collages make up the latest title from Russian artist, activist and SORT collaborator Slava Mogutin. Pictures and Words. Published by Straight to Hell, the publishing house spawned by the X-rated queer zine of the same name, the pocket-sized title injects a sick sense of humor into the artist's challenging and politically charged portfolio: Verses like "Subject: Kim Kardashian's Open Pussy" sit alongside cutting critiques of everything from the oversaturation of fashion imagery in media to the Trump government, showing the honorary New Yorker is still the voice of the underdog and the unrepresented.”