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Violent Art of a Gentle People
Violent Art of a Gentle People

The best alt reads we found in Los Angeles

LA-native and artist Hobbes Ginsberg takes a left field approach to the city’s Art Book Fair

The LA Art Book Fair was this weekend, so everyone flocked to the city of angels to soak up the heat, get sweaty in a t-shirt in the middle of February, and also look at some cool art. I don’t have a new book out this year so I’m attacking the fair tourist style, being tasked with finding the most interesting objects money can buy.

Just a few seconds after walking into the enormous warehouse space that is the Geffen Contemporary I realised I was in way over my head. There seemed to be literally millions of people in front of me and an unfathomable amount of merchandise. The book fair this year housed 334 vendors by my count, so the scale is a little bit overwhelming. My gameplan was to find some tables run by WOC and start from there, but that proved to be a lot harder than I expected. Eventually I made it into the zine room, and after wandering through my fair share of white dudes with beards I was able to find these gems.


Collaborative duo Josie Keefe and Phyllis Ma’s brightly coloured contemporary still lives immediately caught my attention and I’m definitely not the first to notice. Their multiple zines explore the both surreal and the everyday through their character of a lazy mom who’d much rather play with her food than cook it. These fun, graphic pieces left me wanting to do the same.


Released by Miami based Dale Zines, Violent Art of a Gentle People by Dyami O’Brian is a collection of humourous doodles and found images that remind me of 90s movies that make me wish I was cooler. This zine also gets my pick for best title of the weekend.


Exhibiting with friends in a one-off collective called “Pruno”, the first thing Lauren said when I walked up to the table was to “excuse the quality because (they’re) all still in high school”, but nonetheless I think the value of her work speaks for itself. Ashley had almost sold out of her adorable handmade ceramics, and her zines filled with doodles were simple but felt inviting and comfortable. I’m really excited to see what she and the rest of Pruno do in the future.

The thing about huge events like the art book fair is that a lot of times the best stuff isn’t what made it in, but what exists on the periphery and this weekend was no exception. Standing outside the main entrance was a guy in a balaclava handing out little fliers with “fair” slashed out on them telling everyone to go to the anarchist anti-book fair a couple blocks away and I was pretty hesitant to go at first (because anarchists) but I’m so glad I did.

Nah Bookfair, a one­day­only pop­up put on by ONDA.LA, was a perfect reaction to the bookfair proper. Self proclaimed “mostly P.o.C., mostly L.A. based and entirely anti-­authoritarian”, the “Nah Fair” had some of my favorite books of the entire weekend...


This wildly colourful comic by Lale Westvind looks like Roy Lichtenstein if he got into a fight with some alien superheroes (or villains?). Westvind’s wordless comic is an exciting and aggressive explosion of shape and colour, told as a woman makes her way through a destructive distopian landscape.


Inés Estrada’s Sindicalismo 89 is a hilarious and candid look at the lives of young people living in an apartment building of the same name in Mexico City. Estrada’s style feels incredibly honest and just a little bit cute which makes this an easy favourite.