Some Photobooks I liked in 2018 (Part Two)



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  1. Aleksey Kondratyev’s Ice Fishers (London: Loose Joints, 2018) is a slim and quiet edition of only fifty two pages with a one page insert of colophon and text. The images are placed on such a perfect whiteness that it is hard to know what we are looking at first. The narrative is that for generations Kazakh fisherman have set out on to the frozen Ishim River in the hope of catching fish beneath the ice often in temperatures of forty below zero.  What we are seeing is the fisherman wrapped in plastic to keep warm from the biting icy winds. Kondratyev’s images are a beautiful commentary on the impact of global capitalism, with the repurposing of plastic packaging of Russian and Chinese goods, on the local people. 

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    7. Studio Volta photo by Sanlé Sory (Co-published by the Yossi Milo Gallery New York & Tezeta (Edition of 400, plus a special edition of 100) 2018) was produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Yossi Milo Gallery April 26th to June 23rd 2018. The studio photographs of Sory Sanlé are brilliant depictions of his participation in the vibrant music scene in Bobo-Dioulasso in the 1960s through to the 1980s. This beautiful book features never seen before images from the photographer’s archive of vintage negatives. This really is a special body of work and it is always great to see an exhibition catalogue that is also an artists’ book.  The publisher and designer Sébastien Girard, and also an accomplished artist himself, has been making some great books this year and experimenting with the risograph to produce some engaging works. The reason I selected this photobook, is that Sanlé Sory’s work is visually stunning and also his personal story is an amazing one that needs to be recognized.  Sory attended his exhibition at the Yossi Milo gallery and not only was it his first time in New York, it was also the first time that the artist had been on a plane!



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    8. Taco Hidde Bakker’s The Photograph That Took the Place of a Mountain (Amsterdam: Fw:Books, 2018) contains very few photographs. It is a book featuring twenty of Bakker’s miscellaneous writings, originally published in art and photography magazines and on two blogs between 2007 and 2016. The Photograph That Took the Place of a Mountaincontains writings on the work of theorists and artists such as Vilém Flusser, Ariella Azoulay, Witho Worms, Onorato & Krebs, Renato D’Agostin, Stephan Keppel, Marie-José Jongerius, Paul Kooiker, Tom Callemin, Dirk Braeckman, Francesca Woodman, and Mariken Wessels. There is also a lovely interview with Ken Schles. Taco’s writing on images and text is a very enjoyable read. The Short and subtle writings produced here, which include poetry, song lyrics, a few careful images and intense visual philosophy, are really a window into to some of the most profound contemporary photographic artists and their processes. The photobook has come a long way and now it is ready to enter the next phase of its evolution. In the recent past, to DIY and independently publish and get your book out there seemed to be the only goal and once the book was published that was enough, mission accomplished. I now feel we are really ready for a more serious critique of the photobook and for that we need more skilled writers like Taco.



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    9. The New Colonists by Monica Alcazar-Duarte (Bemojake 2018) comes in a space age silver bag, complete with a cloth patch and the promise of being a highly ‘tricked out’ publication. Alcazar-Duarte’s The New Colonists is a project split into three distinct parts. Part one consists of the twilight images of the suburban town of Mars in Pennsylvania, USA.; Part two begins to include space travel technology from the European Space Agency, images from the terrestrial ‘Mars Yards’, robotic rovers, would be-cosmonauts and astronauts, polar deserts and Hawaiian lava fields, and; Part three consists of an “Augmented Reality Portal”.  The portal is accessed through an app, designed by Paul Ferragut, brings the viewer/reader into contact with 3-D animations of spy satellites and space colonies by Levan Tozashvili as well as narration from Dr. Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck. Dr.Crawford presents his ideas on Space colonisation exploring the notions of “space law” and “space ethics”.  Perhaps the “Augmented Reality Portal” and the use of QR codes in photography books will be the CD-ROM of the future? The future is un-written after all. Alcazar-Duarte’s The New Colonistsis a strong photobook of exciting possibilities and dynamic graphic design and imagery. The all American images from Mars, Pennsylvania, connect us back to the sublime life on earth, a world of gas stations and fast food places, but somehow it will never be the same again.



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    10. The Castle by Richard Mosse (London Mack 2018, with 28 double gatefolds, printed with silver inks on black paper, with texts in the booklet by Judith Butler, Paul K Saint Amour, Behrouz Boochani and Richard Mosse). Silver ink on black paper is always a delight to see in a book. This is a very haunting, beautiful and meaningful body of work. The Castle is formed from a selection of photographs from Mosse’s series Heat Maps that show temporary encampments and border crossings along migration routes to Europe from the Middle East and Africa. Using a military grade thermographic camera the “Heat Map” is constructed from hundreds of frames. This camera was primarily designed for border surveillance, search and rescue missions, and for identifying and tracking targets when used as part of a weapons system. The images are not made from light, but are recordings of heat. This is a sinister series of images in book form, disturbing as an idea and concept and equally disturbing and jarring visually.


Dear friends, While you are here

The ICP library is home to over 25,000 books, periodicals, archives, artist files, films and more. Each week ICP staff, students, members and scholars utilize the library as a space for both leisure and education, creating a community of collaboration and engagement. As we look ahead to an exciting future, and our new home at Essex Crossing, I look to you to help fund all of the ICP Library’s ongoing efforts.

Plans are currently underway to open our newest library exhibition old space/new space which will take place at both our old space in mid-town and our new space in Essex. Synchronizing the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with the opening of our new home, we will be exploring photobooks and hosting events around all things astral and include such themes as NASA, astrology, UFOs, psycho-geography and more! We are also working on our first full time exhibition at Essex, Poetry and Photography – watch this Space!

 The ICP Library is supported exclusively through the generosity of our donors. I hope you will consider making a gift to the Friends of the ICP Library Fund to directly impact and grow our collections, collaborative space, and programming.

My sincerest thanks for your support,

Matthew Carson

Head Librarian & Archivist

 P.S. All donors who make a $100 or more gift will be invited for a private walkthrough of our new space at Essex in 2019.


Posted in artists' books, Book events, Friends of the Library Committee, ICP Library, International, publishing, Unpacking the collection | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Photobooks I liked in 2018 (Part One)


I haven’t produced one of these types of list for a few years now and this year. . . This year it just seemed right to do so again and so I have selected some of my personal favourites for your perusal. My selections are my own and I share them here with you, in no particular order and without any hierarchy. Firstly, I must make mention that the ICP Library operates in accordance with S.R. Ranganathan’s Five laws of library science:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every person his or her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.


Twenty eighteen has been a good year for the photobook and this year I have a renewed feeling towards the photobook and I am again excited by the possibilities it has to offer. It is a democratic art form, with a lot of potential and each book can be a successful realization of a project. Each book is a mini-portable gallery and an exhibition unfolding with the turn of the page and that is tremendously exciting. In the past decade or more we have seen the rise of the self-published and the independently published photobook. Characteristics of this independence include smaller edition sizes, creative and unusual design and often more esoteric content. We are in a world where the photographic artist has greater control over the finished product. It is almost easier to define them as what they are not: They are not coffee table books. This is not your Grandfathers library. For me the books that I find the most engaging are artists’ photography books as they are like immersive theatre. I like the books that burn with intensity. They are the books that compel you to interact with them. Good photography always helps too!


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  1. Antony Cairns CTY published by Morel books (London: 2018, Edition of 750) with text by Simon Baker (Director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris). CTY is a photobook exquisitely printed duo tone on very beautiful and rare pearl paper. I am a long-time fan and admirer of the work of Antony Cairns; he has created some amazing book works over the years including a hacked e-reader and another printed on old IBM punch cards. CTY also does not disappoint. This publication brings together a selection of Antony Cairns’ previous projects in London, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Osaka, (LDN3, LDN4, LPT and OSC) and is interspersed with six texts by Simon Baker who introduces his excellent writing pieces with quotes by JG Ballard, William Gibson, HP Lovecraft and Benjamin Péret. Antony Cairns work is about experimental processes, obsolete technologies and the investigation of the aesthetics of abstraction and alienation. This photography is dark and haunting, sensual science fiction and we as readers/viewers get to experience this directly.


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  1. Sohrab Hura’s Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! (New Delhi, India: Self Published (Ugly Dog); 2018. Edition of 600) is a book of colour photographs and the title seems to suggest that life is getting better. In 2015 Sohrab Hura published Life is Elsewhere, which was a photographic journal, with some text, of his life, family, work, love, friends and travels. It was a book of dark doubts and contradictions; A book about a young man in India as he tried to deal with life and how to experience life while also coping with his schizophrenic mother. He desperately trying to connect with the world around him and we as readers/viewers (voyeurs) all went along for the ride. In Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! We are informed that his Mother’s condition was improving and that Sohrab was comfortably photographing at home more. His mother and her dog Elsa are the main protagonists in the book. Although, this new work is in colour and the title appears optimistic this is a book that in many ways goes to much darker places. The death of the dog Elsa, the separation of his parents and the trigger of his mother’s illness all come into play and are documented here. Don’t be too fooled by the spring blossoms on the cover.


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  1. Mongrelism: The mighty mongrel mob nation of Aotearoa New Zealand by Jono Rotman together with 16 Barks, Two Hakas and A Waiata (Co-published by Here Press London & Vevey Switzerland 2018 (edition of 1500)). The publication takes the form of a gang handbook. Photo artist Jono Rotman spent eight years documenting the Mongrel Mob of Aotearoa New Zealand who are a gang notorious for extreme violence. Here Jono depicts their members, mostly indigenous Maori, with the most stunning portraits, complete with their iconic patch of a British bulldog wearing a nazi helmet. The symbolism of the Mongrel Mob is a response to Colonialism and also a proclamation of war against the state and society. The identity of the Mongrel Mob is further explored through artefact studies and brutal first person narratives (much of which is produced in its redacted form). The order and grouping of images is the result of consultation with members and hews to their geographic, familial and hierarchical relationships and the overall feel is one of an unholy alliance and collaboration with the Mob themselves.


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  1. Radial Grammar by Batia Suter (Amsterdam: Roma Publications, 2018. Roma volume 323) was created on the occasion of her eponymous exhibition at Le Bal in Paris, from May 25 till August 26, 2018. This is a large book of 292 pages with an accordion-folded supplement inserted. This book is derived from Batia Suter’s collection of second hand tomes, which have been scanned and reproduced here under the themes of natural science, precision machinery and art history. This tome really is a condensed exhibition in book form where selected visual phenomena, strange objects creating an odd pattern, are manipulated with a rhythm that is both curiously engaging and overwhelming.  Produced with a text by Henri Michaux from 1968 and expertly designed by Roger Willems.


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  1. Strokes by Tiane Doan na Champassak (Paris: Siam’s Guy Books, (Edition of 350) 2018) is a lovely tactile experience that deals with our most intimate possession our mobile phones. This book is reminiscent of a self-published publication Digit by Christian Erroi (2013) although this instance of parallel thinking results in two very different books. Strokes is the work of dirty finger smudges on a screen and it is an experience of the pure tactile pleasure of scrolling, fondling and stroking the pixels. Naked female forms are obscured by the touching. This is a very sensual and appealing book hidden beneath a black velvet cover in which the viewer can create their own strokes on the fabric.Part Two of this 2018 list to follow shortly. 

    But while you are here, Our very Dear friends, 

    The ICP library is home to over 25,000 books, periodicals, archives, artist files, films and more. Each week ICP staff, students, members and scholars utilize the library as a space for both leisure and education, creating a community of collaboration and engagement. As we look ahead to an exciting future, and our new home at Essex Crossing, I look to you to help fund all of the ICP Library’s ongoing efforts.

    Plans are currently underway to open our newest library exhibition old space/new space which will take place at both our old space in mid-town and our new space in Essex. Synchronizing the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with the opening of our new home, we will be exploring photobooks and hosting events around all things astral and include such themes as NASA, astrology, UFOs, psycho-geography and more! We are also working on our first full time exhibition at Essex, Poetry and Photography – watch this Space!

     The ICP Library is supported exclusively through the generosity of our donors. I hope you will consider making a gift to the Friends of the ICP Library Fund to directly impact and grow our collections, collaborative space, and programming.

    My sincerest thanks for your support,

    Matthew Carson

    Head Librarian & Archivist

     P.S. All donors who make a $100 or more gift will be invited for a private walkthrough of our new space at Essex in 2019.


Posted in artists' books, publishing, Unpacking the collection | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Temporary Autonomous Installations in All Used Up: Dismantling the Gaze x Queering the Collection, October 17, 2018 at ICP Museum


To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize “how it really was.” It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger. For historical materialism it is a question of holding fast to a picture of the past, just as if it had unexpectedly thrust itself, in a moment of danger, on the historical subject. The danger threatens the stock of tradition as much as its recipients. For both it is one and the same: handing itself over as the tool of the ruling classes. In every epoch, the attempt must be made to deliver tradition anew from the conformism which is on the point of overwhelming it. For the Messiah arrives not merely as the Redeemer; he also arrives as the vanquisher of the Anti-Christ. The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.

– Walter Benjamin Theses VI, On the Concept of History (1940)

Prior to a panel discussion led by ICP/Bard MFA Chair Nayland Blake at the ICP Museum on October 17, with Christopher Clary, shawné michaelain holloway, William E. Jones, and Allison Parrish, it was possible to see two temporary installations in the galleries:

Christopher Clary staged a re-enactment of 1979 Robert Mapplethorpe photograph Larry and Bobby Kissing, which was live streamed in real time on Cam4 with the models Paloma Gil and shawné michaelain holloway. Clary has performed a variation of this previously at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, with himself. As Clary termed it, “I was Bobby and the public was Larry. Anyone could kiss me.” Recasting the image with other performers opens a potential for inclusion outside the ken of the Mapplethorpe image, which was part of the early “X Portfolio” series that christened, as it were, Mapplethorpe’s artistic ascendance to a beau monde of society portraits and floral still lives. Along with varying the subjects in the in the image, it is also reformatted into a streaming  video on Cam4, a website most often associated with on line sexual performance and voyeurism, far from any non-profit cultural institution. Movement, real time, switching models: qualities outside the Getty Museum description of the photographic print itself as: Close-up of two men kissing. Both are wearing leather jackets.


Robert Mapplethorpe, Larry and Bobby Kissing, gelatin silver print, 1979


Christopher Clary with Paloma Gil and shawné michaelain holloway in the ICP Museum, photo by Jaque Donaldson, courtesy International Center of Photography

The 30 minute video Fall into Ruin (2017) by William E. Jones was projected in the downstairs video gallery before the panel. Fall into Ruin is structured around reminiscences of the late art dealer Alexander Iolas (1907-1887), who Jones met when Jones was a student, and subsequent research into Iolas’s life, which is difficult to trace clearly, but which reflects the extremes of historical flux of the twentieth century: shifting borders, varying modes of survival, and a remarkable panorama of great artists, inflected with rumor, innuendo, and doubt. The video looks backwards from the present day ruins of Villa Iolas, in Athens, and the city itself in its own grueling situation wrought by economic models of austerity and the punishing logic of sustainability.


William E. Jones, Fall into Ruin, high definition video, color, sound, 30 minutes, 2017


Alexander Iolas in William E. Jones, Fall into Ruin, high definition video, color, sound, 30 minutes, 2017

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Posted in archival collections, collections, critical theory, Events, International, parataxis, queer, Unpacking the collection, vernacular photography, Visual Research, Walter Benjamin | Tagged | Leave a comment

All Used Up: Dismantling the Gaze x Queering the Collection

All Used Up brings together the appropriation practices of William E. Jones, Allison Parrish, and Christopher Clary, with special guests shawné michaelain holloway and Paloma Gil, for a night of screenings, readings, and performances. Followed by a panel discussion with the artists and moderator Nayland Blake.

This is a ticketed event granting access to the ICP Museum galleries for a portion of the program. Please register in advance. ICP Members have access to preferred seating in our reserved members’ section.

Tickets ($7 for Members and $10 for non-members) are only available online when you register for the program. Members, please click on “My Membership” at the top of the ticketing page to receive your discount.

Program Schedule

6:30–8 PM – William E. Jones screens the first New York showing of Fall into Ruin. The film tells the story of Jones’s relationship with Alexander Iolas, a Greek international art dealer. After Iolas’s death from AIDS in 1987, his art collection of antiquities, modern, and contemporary art disappeared and his house was later vandalized extensively. The film includes not only contemporary images of the site in its ruined state, but also photographs Jones took in 1982 of Iolas’s house in its glory.


William E. Jones, Still from Fall into Ruin, 2017, courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery

6:30–7:30 PM – Christopher Clary, featuring special guests, re-performs Robert Mapplethorpe’s photograph Larry and Bobby Kissing in a networked performance entitled The <im>Perfect Moment<s>. The camera-feed live streams to a cam-based sex website and projects back into the museum. Clary invokes Mapplethorpe’s work as a platform to research, question, and further—or “queer”—what has been historically the type of work and identities used to represent the LGBTQ art cannon.



Christopher Clary, The <im>Perfect Moment<s> at the Palais de Tokyo, courtesy of the artist and Guaizine

7:30–8 PM – Allison Parrish will read from her new book, Articulations. The poems are the output of a computer program that extracts linguistic features from over two million lines of public domain poetry, then traces fluid paths between the lines based on their phonetic and syntactic similarities. By turns propulsive and meditative, the poems demonstrate an intuitive coherence found outside the bounds of intentional semantic constraints—representing language not for analysis but poetic output.


Allison Parrish, Cover from Articulations, 2018, courtesy of the author and Counterpath Press


8–9 PM – JonesParrish, Clary, and holloway come together in conversation with Nayland Blake.


William E. Jones is an artist, filmmaker, and writer. He has made the experimental films Massillon (1991) and Finished (1997), and many other works, including the essay film Fall into Ruin(2017), about the Greek art dealer Alexander Iolas (1907–1987) and his abandoned house in Athens. Jones’s films have been the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern, London (2005); Anthology Film Archives, New York (2010); Austrian Film Museum, Vienna (2011); and Oberhausen Short Film Festival (2011). He has been exhibited at Musée du Louvre, Palais de Tokyo, and Cinémathèque française, Paris; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Jones has published many books, most recently Flesh and the Cosmos (2014) and True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell (2016). Jones’s writing has also appeared in periodicals such as Animal ShelterArea SneaksArtforumBidounButtFriezeLittle JoeMousse, and The White Review. Jones has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant, a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Grant, two California Community Foundation Fellowships, and a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writer’s Grant.

Christopher Clary is an artist and curator mediating queer images and words. Clary’s porn-novella zip file, a Rhizome commission, was named best individual work of internet art by Hyperallergic and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Walker Art Center. The poetry collective Troll Thread is publishing a series of books that Clary has performed at the International Center of Photography, Palais de Tokyo, and Brown University. Curatorially, Clary continues to evolve a pavilion produced for The Wrong digital art biennial into a platform on safe space from intersectional trauma to the end of network culture.

shawnè michaelain holloway is a new media artist using sound, video, and performance to shape the rhetorics of technology and sexuality into tools for exposing structures of power. She has spoken and exhibited work internationally in spaces like the New Museum (New York, NY), Sorbus Galleria (Helsinki, FI), The Kitchen (New York, NY) Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, UK), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL). Currently, Holloway teaches in the New Arts Journalism department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, poet, educator, and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet, with a focus on artificial intelligence and computational creativity. She is a member of the full-time faculty at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master’s degree in 2008. Parrish’s first full-length book of computer-generated poetry, Articulations, was published by Counterpath in 2018.

Nayland Blake is an internationally acclaimed interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the University Art Museum, Berkeley. His writing has been published in ArtforumInterviewOutOutlook, and numerous exhibition catalogues. He has been on the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, the California Institute of the Arts, the University of California, Berkeley, Parsons School for Design, New York University, the School of Visual Arts, and Harvard University Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. He is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.

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Vernacular Photography and Narrative: Fang’s indexes (part 1)


FIFTY FOTOS FOUND BY FANG WITH TEXT BY THE HOUND and help me both contend for the richest index of any photobook. Poet Gillian McCain collaborated with James Marshall and Megan Cump on two books created with images from McCain’s vast collection of found photography. We get a hint of McCain’s process and interests through the alphabetical indexes, which point to a single, or in some cases, several images with that particular subject. McCain’s collection is not only deeply personal in its curation but McCain’s unique classifications both add a structure to the collection and often engage you with the materials in a different way. Thinking of their practice as a poet, their classifications often feel more like short (often a single word) poems paired with the photography.


Some text includes:

  • Anticipatory nostalgia, 32
  • Arthur, Bea, 76
  • Bootie bump panties, 71
  • cops, 87, 90
  • Dexedrine, 81
  • ectoplasm, 54
  • fang marks, 92
  • gang, 34, 48, 81
    • gang sign, 44
    • gang signal, 73
  • hair, 12, 13, 27, 39, 44, 51, 68, 79, 81, 83
  • Ive’s, Burl, 70
  • Josef Stalin Fan Club, 22
  • Korea, 87
  • Lomax, Alan, 38
  • mods, 81
  • Norton Records 29, 35
    • see Bill Miller
    • see Dangerous Games
    • see Mary Weiss
  • Oriental Tea Room, 56
  • phantom limb, 47
  • Quaaludes, 67
  • Rosemary’s Baby, 40
  • Slipnot [sic], 5
  • teen torture, 43
  • unsold pilots, 98
  • Velvet Underground, The, 29
  • Wisconsin Death Trip, 84
  • young, comatose girl, 21
  • Zorba the Greek, 68

In Fifty Fotos… additional text is provided by James Marshall (the hound)  where they originally were posted on The HoundBlog and also features selections from the blog’s comment section. help me features photos exhibited at the camera club of New York, and was curated by Gillian and Megan Cump, careful diptychs are created in the design of the book and relationships and strange parallels emerge between images taken in completely distinct spaces and times.

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Gillian McCain will be speaking for a panel organized by a special ICP librarian to be held this September 22nd for the Contemporary Art Book Conference at the New York Art Book Fair. Please join us at 4:00 at Book Culture, LIC to hear McCain and others speak about their collections of vernacular photographs. More information can be seen here

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Connecting Subjectivities: An interview with Be Oakley

Founded in 2015 the GenderFail Archive Project is a publishing and programming platform for projects fostering intersectional queer subjectivities. Through this innitiative Be Oakley invites artists, curators, librarians, activists, and other engaged publics to “pick a selection of titles from the GenderFail Collection” and generate new readings from the material. After a brief meeting at the New York Art Book Fair last year Emily Dunne at the ICP Library invited Oakley to collaborate on an exhibition series.

That collaboration resulted in Queering the Collection, a series of three exhibitions at the Library to present a variety of curatorial perspectives on contemporary investigations of gender through archives, libraries, and collections. Installations and public readings by The WRRQ Collective and Christopher Clary expanded upon existing contexts for the Library’s selections, but most importantly, Queering the Collection transformed the Library from an accessible repository of meaning into a malleable and responsive
vessel for contemporary modes of visual literacy.

What follows is a casual conversation with Be Oakley, completed in July 2018.

Patricia: How did you begin formulating a framework for queering an archive, and specifically the ICP Library?
Be: As a queer-focused publisher, I look for titles that expand upon queer subjectivities by focusing on the commonality of our struggles.

GenderFail is very small compared to the ICP collection and that draws attention to my archive due to the size and subject matter within GenderFail. This relationship was amplified when the sculptural displays created for the first exhibition were installed.

Be: Did you feel any shifts in the space by having the publications and sculptures on view simultaneously?

Patricia: Absolutely. It felt different to sit on a soft bubbly circular thing rather than on a chair that conditions the body to reference a classroom or an office. Having the books and the interactive sculptures together opened up the space and brought a cozy and intimate atmosphere to an institutional setting.

Be: I’m really interested in how GenderFail fosters a certain queer messiness that helps to adds a productive friction to spaces like the ICP Library.

Patricia: Among heady Semiotext(e) titles and mainstream favorites like Rebecca Solnit are playful works like Holy Bible and Colette. Also, Junk Poems, A Selection which juxtaposes actual text from SPAM emails, “hidden stories that are squeezed between the lines of penis enlargement links.” I’m interested in that juxtaposition.

Be: I heard a lot of great things about Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. The GenderFail Archive is not an idealized collection of rare, strictly queer, or alternative texts. The way I collect is a very fluid process. Although Solnit is more mainstream than the rest of the titles in the archive, it doesn’t negate the importance of that text.

In the New Museum’s Trigger: Gender as a Weapon and a Tool catalogue, author and poet Fred Moton talked about the “Politics of the Mess,” the importance of intuitions to create new messes rather than cleaning them up. This has been important in how I formulate what the GenderFail Archive Project aims to do: create a messy intersectional collection of texts. The invited curators, including the publics that engage with the archive, are invited to create connections between texts that they have not considered to be connected.

Personally, I see a lot of connections between Junk Poems and Men Explain Things to Me. Junk mail is basically the digital equivalent to mansplaining?

Patricia: I’m indulging in that comparison for a second: junk mail and mansplaining both prevail because people tolerate them both as forms of authority, or as a  solution.

Be: And this presumed authority is in direct connection with privilege. Most junk mail is disregarded and never even opened in our inboxes. Often, I see people on social media sharing how many unread emails they have in their inbox. 99% of these emails will never be opened but sit in our inboxes as digital weight that we carry with us. In some ways, this is what I feel the connection between mansplaining and junk mail: information thrown at us without our consent.


Bar Dykes, Merril Mushroom, 2016

Patricia: Oh, I like how you said that! Speaking of connections, there has been some mainstream media discourse about the loss of lesbian bars and the public culture of queer women. Bar Dykes by Merril Mushroom—a book about the cruising culture of queer women in the 80s—contains a peek into an era where even the word lesbian wasn’t uttered. Women were “gay” and “queer” just like the guys.

Be: Bar Dykes is a really special publication edited by my friend Faythe Levine and published by the wonderful Caroline Paquita. Cisgender white gay men take up a lot of space in queer publishing. Most of the publications I have released through Genderfail have happened to be work by queer women. This wasn’t something I planned when I first started publishing, but it shows where my conceptual and aesthetic concerns are concentrated.

From Pages by Linda Simpson

Pages, Linda Simpson, 2013

Patricia: Pages by Linda Simpson is another terrific book, a slice of New York just before I moved here. How did you find that one?

Be: I picked up a copy at NYABF. I had a really incredible conversation with one of the people involved with Peradam, the publisher of Pages. Talking to other queer-focused publishers like Peradam is extremely important in fostering community among other queer publishing projects.

Patricia: I’m curious about O Syria and Inch by Inch House by House Alley by Alley. At first glance these are not queer books. How do you see them fitting into the Genderfail Archive project show? Maybe a better question is, how can we let go of what keeps us from seeing such works as queer?

Be: For GenderFail, a queer subjectivity is one that pushes against a capitalist, racist, ableist, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-environmental ideologies. The GenderFail Archive Project is not about collecting publications reflecting just the queer experience, but to connect queer experience with other forms of oppression against marginalized people.

When you just focus exclusively on the queer experience, especially if you are white, you are actively deciding to be silent on other issue that are interconnected to the queer experience. As a white non-binary queer person who often passes for cisgender, it’s paramount that my platform does not perpetuate a queer ideology that exclusively benefits white queer people like myself. When someone looks through the GenderFail Archive they are invited to flip through titles like O’Syria, or Inch by Inch House by House Alley by Alley to consider how these titles might intersect with queer subjectivities. The viewer is invited to consider how these subjectivities may be connected or why they might exist in the same archive.


Libya: Inch by Inch House by House Alley by Alley, 2017

Intersectionality by definition is messy, it takes effort and intention to work towards interconnecting our seemingly disparate struggles.

Patricia: Absolutely. Which is why your selections were so refreshing. I also loved Earth First Means Social War.  Specifically the overt declaration that “Activism is the division of labor that specializes in social change.”

Be: That publication was picked by a Richmond based activist group called the Virginia River Healers and really falls in line with their mission. The Virginia River Healers is a water rights organization that aims to restore and protect the water quality in Virginia. They have been doing a lot of work to advocate against the construction of crude-oil pipelines in Virginia. Water quality affects everyone to varying degrees, although it disproportionately affects the poor.

I recently worked with them to print some posters with information about the death of Marcus-David Peters, an unarmed black man killed in Richmond by police. The Virginia River Healers is a great example of intersectionality in action, and lately I have been thinking about alternative forms of activism that work in tandem to groups like them. Not everyone is able to perform typically understood forms of activism, such as direct action in the streets or public forms of protest that require one’s body to be physically present. The typical associations of what an activist is relies on an ableist expectation of bodies in motion. What are the forms of activism that people with non-neurotpyical and alternatively able folks perform?

Patricia: Protest is also mostly defined by folks who don’t have to worry about deportation. Increasingly, folks on visas and green cards have more reservations about public and street forms of protest but are participating in other ways.

Be: I recently came up with a phrase, Radical Softness as a Boundless Form of Resistance, to give language to these alternative forms of activism. As someone with mental and physical health issues I often find myself unable to perform these typically understood forms of activism. My main form of activism takes happens through disseminated printed object. I consider the spaces in the printed page as a form of public space by which I perform my own activist interventions.

I consider protest as a form of allyship, where privilege can be mobilized in support of those who do not have access to these public spaces. That being said, it’s important for those with privilege to be aware of the space we are taking up.

I recently saw a post on Instagram by the group RISE Indigenous that spoke to the function of protest signs as a form of self-care stating, “MAKING PROTEST SIGNS IS A FORM OF SELF-CARE THIS IS HOW WE BUILD AND EXPAND OUR OWN LANGUAGE AS A COMMUNITY TRUST YR VOICE!”. It’s powerful to think of protest signs as a form of self-care. Resistance is as much about building up our communities as it is about direct action.


Guilty Pleasures in the Age of the Problematic Fave, Liz Barr, 2015

Patricia: We need all forms, and I don’t discount what you do for one second. Liz Barr’s Guilty Pleasures in the Age of the Problematic Fave reminds me so much of another form of protest, the public role of the Feminist Killjoy as defined by Sarah Ahmed. I love that call to action: to embody the Killjoy as a form of protest and power.

Be: Yes, I totally agree. Sara Ahmed is one of my favorite writers. I have been really influenced by her texts, the A phenomenology of whiteness and Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. I really how she talks about the way subjects are orientated towards certain objects over others. I think Liz does a really great job deconstructing these “problematic favs” by showing how we are orientated towards these cultural idols. I think Ahmed is such a good example in relationship to Barr’s work by explaining and unpacking societies orientation towards these cultural figures.

Be: I’m interested in what you felt the GenderFail Archive added to the ICP Library? Did you feel that GenderFail Archive added needed intersectionality to the ICP Library or did it highlight the works that were already in the collection?

Patricia: When I think about how intersectionality functions through photography—not alongside it, in the bumpy sidecar—I see that mode of analysis in individual titles that are present in this and other libraries, but people don’t consider them in that way. Gordon Parks comes to mind, but I would also widen that scope to include a book few people ever talk about anymore but seems relevant in the Brexit/Trump age: Ray’s a Laugh by Richard Billingham. The first print run of Ray’s a Laugh was marked by the heaviness of a problematic edit, but the visual story shows a white family marked by poverty, alcoholism, mental health, public housing, and how each of those factors added up to guarantee class oppression. Billingham’s book shows an interconnectedness of conditions that dominant white culture doesn’t ever want to own up to because it disturbs the monolithic institution of Whiteness. An unbearable stain on Whiteness…

I said all that to show how, in relation to image, I think of intersectionality as a viewing modality that is transferable but not interchangeable. So, yes GenderFail brought in significant intersectional transferrence, a looser, more immediate grouping of titles that expanded upon ICP’s holdings and invited new considerations for how our social conditions are interconnected. The installation encouraged intersectional readings across time and movements. It’s difficult to make an established library feel immediacy and urgency. The Genderfail books brought in those qualities.

Be:  Thank you for that. It’s important to find ways to be able to address the issues of poverty, mental health, and housing as how it affects both white families and families of color. In a white supremacist capitalist society, those in positions of power mobilize rural poor whites against communities of color. It’s important to find ways to interconnect how capitalism affects rural white folks while finding ways to acknowledge white privilege.

This is why I think is important for texts such as Ray’s a Laugh to be contextualized by other publications that can highlight problematic aspects of Billingham’s book to create a productive kind of friction. In the future I want to focus on programing that encourages intersectional reading practices between the GenderFail Archive and institutional collections. The GenderFail Archive has always been a socially engaged project.

I was recently at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit and picked up a shirt from the American Coalition for Palestine that said, “Palestine is a Feminist/Queer/Refugee/Racial Justice Issue.” Statements like this express through language a type of intersectionality that I strive towards.

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Open letter to the Mothership – ICP Library @ 6.30pm to 8.30pm July 11, 2018


Open letter to the Mothership is an exhibition of photographs by Christine Callahan with the artist’s selection of ICP library books and objects from her personal collection.

It marks the beginning of over a year of Cosmic Photobook intervention for the ICP Library. A new series the ICP Library exhibitions, events and interventions: Old Space, New Space for 2018-2019. Watch this space as it unfolds. . .

Dear Mothership,

I have recognized and received your signals. I appreciate discovering your markings hidden in plain sight. When finding your coordinates, I unlock them with my capture device. I am thrilled to have identified a considerable amount of them in ordinary, earthly locations. These occurrences make my transcendental experiences more consequential. Your presence is felt, it helps me cope with the overwhelming greed, war and injustice that desecrates my blue planet. Please keep the illuminating signals coming. If you happen to need a feminist, queer, human artist for study or research, please feel free to take me with you. You can spot me traveling about with fellow cosmic souls, camera in hand, searching for light, color and hope.

Sincerely yours,

Christine Callahan

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Christine Callahan is an artist and native New Yorker. She earned her MFA from the International Center of Photography – Bard College and her BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Her photographs have been exhibited at the Musée de l’Elysée, Switzerland, the LiShui Museum of Photography, China, Context Gallery, Northern Ireland, Tactile Bosh Gallery, Wales and Aperture Gallery, New York. Selections from her project, 58 Empress Pines Drive were published in the Aperture book, ReGeneration 2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today. In conjunction with exhibitions, her work has been published by Thames & Hudson, the Cardiff School of Art and Design, the International Center of Photography and Curious Matter Gallery. A series of photographs from her project Edge of Happiness were published in the art journal, Tool Book. She teaches photography at the International Center of Photography and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – online division. She writes for the contemporary photography platform LensCulture. She lives in New York City.

Christine Callahan


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