London's ICA launches a serial publication exhibition celebrating various zines and art ephemera
This Spring saw the launch of In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, an exhibition composed of past pieces from serial publications produced by artists from 1955 to the present day. Various artifacts have been sourced from the archives of artists in the 60s - those involved in the correspondence art movement where artists exchanged art by post, and the DIY zine culture in the 80s and 90s.
Personally I cannot envisage Ipads or Kindles ever replacing books wholesale, although it has definitely altered the way that I physically engage with text
'In Numbers' is the first survey to explore the oft-neglected outlets of magazines and postcards as a new kind of art production, where the publications themselves act as artworks. Previously shown at X-Initiative in New York, 'In Numbers' now arrives at The ICA in London, where the exhibited publications aim to reflect the diverse backgrounds of the artists and the wide range of techniques and forms. We speak to the curator, Matt Williams about serial publications and the nature of zines...
Dazed Digital: What makes serial publications so interesting?
Matt Williams: The publications offer the viewer direct access to the artists’ ideas and practice through a medium that has, in the past, been perceived as being secondary to works that you would find in a commercial or institutional art gallery – offering an insight into a variety of artist communities. For example there are a number of publications, such as 'Semina' and 'Landslide', that were coming out of the West Coast of the USA during the late 50s early 60s that have undoubtedly had an influence on a number of artists and graphic designers working today.
DD: In our digital times, the future of traditional media is always debated - what do you think the future will be like, what’s next for print and for zine culture?
Matt Williams: Personally I cannot envisage Ipads or Kindles ever replacing books wholesale, although it has definitely altered the way that I physically engage with text… I think that nowadays due to the accessibility and development of design programmes and print on demand etc that publishing within the arts is probably in a healthier state, plus it enables publishers to produce more specialist books…
DD: What is/was your favourite zine and which was the weirdest one you’ve ever encountered?
Matt Williams: I’ve always liked Daido Moriyama’s work and the collection of Araki’s Xerox books on display are very special, as are William Leavitt and Bas Jan Ader’s Landslide…
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, edited by Philip Aarons and Andrew Roth (New York: PPP Editions, 2010). The book documents the history of over 60 publications and includes essays and interviews by the likes of Victor Brand, Clive Phillpot, Nancy Princethal and William S Wilson.