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Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair 2017
Rachel Stern’s Love MeCourtesy of the Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair

Six filthy gems from Brooklyn’s first-ever Dirty Book Fair

The New York City borough held an inaugural Dirty Book Fair featuring some of the most titillating publications, illustrations and performances

“I'm happy all those pervs came out to the show," says photographer Matthew Leifheit, reflecting on the first-ever edition of the Dirty Book Fair which took place last weekend in Brooklyn, and of which he curated. Featuring zines, books, magazine, illustrations and performances, for a city so sexy, it’s not surprising that attendance went above and beyond expectations. “We didn't expect to sell that many zines," Leifheit explains."We ran out of a lot of publications the first day, but I suspected a fair of specifically smutty publications might be interesting to people.” For those of us who couldn’t make it, Leifheit gives us a round up of his filthiest favourites.


Rachel Stern is someone I've known since we were art students together at the Rhode Island School of Design. She recently graduated from Columbia University's MFA program, and has spent the time since relocating her life and her studio to Philadelphia, where she lives in an old abandoned school building with a bunch of other artists. She told me the invitation to participate in the Dirty Book Fair was an impetus to get back into the studio and make some new work after this hiatus, which made me feel like the fair was serving a purpose for some artists by providing a platform for their freshest endeavours. Rachel's Love Me combines self-portraits she's made over the past five years with brand new images she made for the book – particularly elicit pictures she says will never go onto the internet because they're too revealing.”


“When I had the idea for the Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair, the first person I asked to participate was my friend Anthony Cudahy. I love his paintings, and I know he's made work based on pornographic imagery in the past. The way that his hand makes marks is totally seductive to me. And I think there's a bit of eroticism to all his work regardless of subject, because of the way the paint or pencil is applied. The zines he contributed to the fair, TIwAML and Snake On Your Path, are sensitive and personal reflections on his own life and experience, abstracted to the point of allegory. Anthony also had ideas for more people I should include in the fair who I didn't know before, like Kyle Quinn and his ‘Raw Meat Collective’”.


“I'm not totally sure how to explain Heather Benjamin's work. My intern's father came to the Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair, and he was specifically interested in talking about her books, zines, artwork and apparel. Although the technical prowess of Heather's drawing is impressive and unmistakable, he wondered about the apparent depiction of genital mutilation in her print ‘Jealous Lover 2’. ‘There's something here for everyone,’ is all I could think to say at the time. In retrospect, I should have told him that I wanted to include Heather's editions in the fair because she's an artist who has been producing a lot of erotic work in recent years that doesn't look like anyone else's I can think of, and its ideal form is to be seen in reproduction. Her depictions of bodies spurn saccharine, soft tropes of womanhood in favour of empowered lines and a calligraphic enjoyment of the female form.”


‘Ben McNutt is a photographer who has photographed wrestlers since before he graduated from art school in Baltimore. He recently made a coloring book of wrestlers that he drew and self-published it. This is the kind of art that comes out of total obsession – Ben has even trained to become a wrestler himself, and he respects the sport from both the perspective of a fan and a practitioner. He's currently in Turkey photographing the national sport of oil wrestling, and it seems like he's onto something big, an exciting new chapter in his work. This was one of our top sellers at the Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair, although all of our customers were legal adults and I'm not sure how many of them should own crayons.


“I'd like to shout out Anthony Urrea's issue of MATTE Magazine. Full disclosure: I publish this magazine myself, and the magazine's staff organised this fair. But of all the 44 Issues I've published so far, Anthony's 2016 magazine has perhaps been the steamiest for me to edit. His Polaroids of himself, his friends and lovers, New York nightlife, flowers, fields, butts and penises are utopic and poetic and earnest – all the things autobiographical artwork should be in order to communicate with a larger audience. He depicts a queer paradise that looks like another time but is unmistakeably the present. As William J. Simmons wrote in the issue's afterword, ‘These are images that, especially at this moment, we need to see, and we need to see them not as inclusivity or tokenistic ‘types,’ but rather as mandates for an expansive vision of, what photography can do.’”

Follow Leifheit here


“Although this is my top pick from the Brooklyn Dirty Book fair, it's a book that doesn't actually exist yet. The male soprano, composer, performer and video artist M Lamar is currently raising finds on Kickstarter to publish NEGROGOTHIC, an anthology of photographs, prints, drawings, essays, librettos, lyrics, and other documentation of Lamar's varied and singular art practice. Over the weekend, we hosted a workshop of "American Cuck", a new multimedia installation/performance in order to raise awareness of the fundraising campaign the nonprofit gallery Participant, Inc is conducting for NEGROGOTHIC, and I would easily say Lamar's astonishing vocal range and the cutting commentary of his work was my favorite part of this year's fair.”