I went to Publish and Be Damned in Hackney yesterday. It’s a huge zine / magazine fair which aims to help distribute underground material. There were some very impressive books on sale, including a french publication which was mostly obscene woodcuts and a tiny, almost edible little book which said in various languages ‘my heart is a book’. I bought a CD zine called ’1Km2 Audio Guide’ which came with a CD (w00t!) The guy who made it went around the square mile of St. Martin’s in the field and Charing Cross, interviewing homeless people. There were others – one with primary school kids and another with market traders. Listening to it now, it’s interesting, and is probably the only zine I saw which was more about content than presentation. The fair was very art school. Some painfully fashionable people were there selling their painfully conceptual work. One thing that infuriates me – and will cause me to put the book down immediately – is the tendency to fill dozens of pages with scrappy (‘naive’) drawings. One woman had a book which collected the work of several artists who usually worked with sculpture. There was absolutely nothing in it which suggested that the artists had any talent for anything else: about 60 glossy images of fluorescent squares. Dull, dull, dull.
S. and I have decided to get a stall next year. We went to Leon and talked about how we would really like to see the small publication that is going in a new and interesting direction. I *want* to be impressed by these things, but so often it’s navel gazery, with not the slightest sense of urgency.