Aarhus Artbook & Zine Fest 2017 – coverage

Aarhus Artbook & Zine Fest 2017 – coverage

Self-publishing is a dynamically evolving field of (not only) visual arts. In the recent years, nearly every capital city and many bigger cities got to host a festival or expo dedicated to the topic of Art Books.
The same thing happened in Aarhus, a Danish city, named European Capital of Culture in the year 2017. That’s where Aarhus Art Book & Zine Fest took place – an event that I just came back and am writing this coverage from.

The event is organized by two amazing guys: Abdul Dube and Connor (plus a whole horde of volunteers). This years program was divided into three festival days – that included workshops, an exhibition, conference, and expo. In a nutshell – everything an art book lover needs.

Short Getaway to Copenhagen

My trip to Aarhus started with a stopover in Copenhagen. I’ve never been there, so I decided to take advantage of those couple of hours between the flights and explore the city in a search for a local print and art book scene.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieCopenhagen – the midday rush. Is there even any traffic here?! It was so quiet it was deafening!

The first stop on a road was the Cinnober Bookstore. It was a very interesting, minimalistic space with selected book assortment on design and art.

Next place on the ‘Must-See’ list is Officin. It’s a space in Vesterbro – red lantern district, inside a building previously occupied by a porn cinema. Officin is a publishing house, exhibition space and a print workshop (Riso A2!!! and typical typography techniques).

Unfortunately, even after two attempts I did not manage to get in and had to satisfy myself with just peeking through the window… Quite a show for passersby, a desperate guy waiting around in front of a prior porn cinema…

 

The last spot on my short route was CMYK Kld. It’s a small gallery, mainly set on selling graphics and drawings. They have lots of screen prints and riso graphics in their collection, but also an impressive catalog of zines and self-published publications, straight from the hands of collaborating artists. Despite its small size, it’s definitely worth a visit!

 

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Meeting up in Aarhus

My trip to the festival was a result of an invite that I got from the organizers with a request to host a conference talk called Making Public. Apart from me in the event took part guests from Belgium, Norway, USA and South Africa. The whole thing started with shared dinner in a hotel reserved for the festival.

I love events like this because it’s such an amazing opportunity to meet people living in different worlds. On the very first day, we could learn how much we are alike and different in the terms of publishing practices. The festival was opened with a whole day of workshops for all invited guest speakers. The goal of this was to create a collaboratory festival publication, combining experiences of all of those taking part.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

First, we created a mind map on the wall with phrases connected to our professional pursuits and created the main idea for the zine.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Then we were printing zines until late, using different techniques. Printer, typewriter, templates etc.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieDrying prints on the drying rack for clothes?

Zines – obsession, chatter, and clutter

This edition of the ABZ (Art Book Zinefest) was entirely dominated by the zines. The very next day we could learn during the exhibition opening the festival, how much of a universal and democratic form of expression zine is, but also of it’s good (and bad) sides.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieExhibition bookcase, and there – 2 books and 1 zine from the Oficyna

My thoughts, being a part of this community for a while, are:

1) creators of zines and their audience play roles that intermingle in bizarre ways

2) zine creators are a bunch of talkative collectors (of paintings, stories, opinions)

3) zine audiences are people obsessed with collecting

A huge part of the exhibition consisted of works sent in from an open-call. But for me, the spotlight stole the archives presented by the invited guests. It’s really incredible to see how every one of the zine collectors becomes a distinguished curator, which path they take and through what criteria they choose whats noteworthy. On the festival exhibition, we could observe a whole spectrum of collections put together basing on different criteria – the political-ideological, aesthetic, print value, collaborative work etc.

In this context, our artbooks (I took Hodowanie made by Sylwia Walczkowska and newly published Instytut by Gabriel Orłowski) were strikingly ‘book-like’ – classic, conservative form, with hard, textile cover, title pages, and footers, linear narrative, vintage visuals, and conjectures. It’s really cool to see publications published for ourselves in this light.

Dokk1 – a library of the XXI century

It’s also worth to mention about the main space of the festival – Dokk1. It’s a super modern library, apparently acclaimed in rankings as number 1 in the world! The lowest floor is way below the sea level.
Ordering a book you can follow its path through the intricate canals and corridors, thanks to a camera located inside of the dispenser.

But on the daily Dokk1 is full of life culture center. In a single space musical events, working open space, conferences, exhibitions, and workshops coexist in harmony, with additional space and care for children. Oh yeah, and you can borrow books too 🙂

The conference – Day 1

Straight to the point – I love conferences! The problem is that there are cool and lame conferences, latter being more common. The main problem is dullness – but that was definitely not the case with the ABZ speakers. Despite the small audience, it was really lively!

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieFragment of the conference opening presentation by Abdul Dube on printing tools evolution in the cause of self-publishing

The first days’ program was combined with 5 presentations in which the keyword was ‘activism’ or community engagement.

The first guest speaker was Aisha. She lives in a town (I don’t remember the name) 20km from Aarhus, that for the last couple of decades is a ghetto for the dregs of society (yes, that’s still a thing in an XXI century Scandinavia). Putting systemic mechanisms aside, and why does a place like this exists in the first place, Aisha focused her story on how the actions of artists-activists helped her get out of a cycle of poverty and violence. However what was especially interesting was that her story was not about getting out of the ghetto, but how she stayed and uses her artistic practice to work with the local community: she leads workshops on creating local publications. Self-publishing as a mean for public service? It was a very interesting presentation.

Another interesting presentation was almost a ‘performance’ of David Rickerby, sixty-year-old Brit, living in Denmark for years now. That’s another person with interesting past. Almost half of his life he spent in jail for robberies and assaults, only to finally discover his literary talent and emigrate to Denmark (he says it was not about social benefits). As a person not caring too much about the form, this outsider-writer never could (or wanted) find a middle ground with publishers. Because of that, he works in the field of self-publishing. What really made an impression on me was his writing style. The only form of story writing that works for him are testimonies. That’s why all of his stories either take the form of or are inspired by confessions to the officer. It sounds pretentious but all it takes is a look at this guy to know that he is authentic.

The conference – Day 2

Michał, your presentation will be the opening event for Saturday, okay? – asked Abdul, the main organizer of ABZ. Sure, I’d love that! What time should we start?

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieBeware of the crowds!

… yeah right. At 10:15 when the presentation was supposed to start, the majority of the potential audience was still turning in bed, catching up on sleep after the Fridays evening. But the few that managed to show up had nothing to regret. I prepared a really thought out presentation on work Oficyna puts out, the model on which we operate, and the educational values in the audience we build for our affairs.

The entire second day of the conference was much more focused on the trade aspect. After my presentation Anki from Bergen, Norway, showed up on the scene, presenting (in a very interesting way) history and backstage of the Bergen Artbook Fair. It is the biggest Scandinavian expo of its kind, and definitely a noteworthy event. And because we created a nice bond, I hope that Oficyna will be invited to Bergen next year 😃

Another presentation was a backstage of creation and work of Copenhagen Zine Fest. The history of the event again was caused by a brave person taking initiative. This time it was Anna, alumni of the comic school in Malmo, Sweden. When she came back to Copenhagen she was surprised by the division within the art community and decided to integrate it by organizing a festival. I really like this was of thinking – if you want to take part in a movement that doesn’t exist or works badly, you can’t just accept it and complain, but you get your hands dirty and make it yourself!

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieAnna from CphZineFest showing off a bike trailer with a moving library and zine workshop

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferiePoster of the Copenhagen ZineFest found in Copenhagen

Zine Expo

The last event in Dokk1 was the expo, in which part took local creators and guests invited by the organizers.

What stood out for me? Mainly the large numbers of the ephemeral publications, created with the most basic means in minimal numbers. Our stand in comparison looked very extensive, full of serious publications and high, for the standards, number of copies.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieShot from our stand facing the ABZ zinefest library

Dinner

The big finish was the open dinner for all taking part and invited to the festival. It was organized in one of the art workshops in the suburbs of Aarhus. It was put together in a form of the shared pot, and giving back money to people preparing the food. The leading idea of the evening was:

If you have more than you need
Build a long table instead of a high wall

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Conclusion

From Denmark, I brought many personal observations that worked as real food for thought. Because Oficyna is a for-profit firm on a commercial market that needs to earn a specific amount of money every month to survive, lots of it was surrounding finances. It surprised me how different Scandinavians think about fundraising

I have an idea > I apply for a donation > I make it

In this context my stories of how Oficyna works were almost a hyper-capitalistic manifesto. If we want to make something, first we need to make money for it and secure funds for a realization of a non-commercial project.

Meetings like those are really inspiring. They can freshen up your head, verify the dogmas and help you look at yourself in a different light.

Another thing is observation how diverse our community is. Zine creation is a space where all kinds of artistic personas can thrive: writers, graphics, punks, social activists, criminalists, children. A zine is an open form where everyone sets their own boundaries and rules.

And in this, I see the great value of this trip: lots of new stimuli for creation, publication, and conversation. It was worth it to go to Aarhus!

Michał Chojecki

Michał Chojecki

Founder of Oficyna Peryferie. Visual artist, author of art books and projects. Adjunct professor on Graphic Design Faculty in Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2015 he defended his PhD dissertation on art books

Self-publishing is a dynamically evolving field of (not only) visual arts. In the recent years, nearly every capital city and many bigger cities got to host a festival or expo dedicated to the topic of Art Books.
The same thing happened in Aarhus, a Danish city, named European Capital of Culture in the year 2017. That’s where Aarhus Art Book & Zine Fest took place – an event that I just came back and am writing this coverage from.

The event is organized by two amazing guys: Abdul Dube and Connor (plus a whole horde of volunteers). This years program was divided into three festival days – that included workshops, an exhibition, conference, and expo. In a nutshell – everything an art book lover needs.

Short Getaway to Copenhagen

My trip to Aarhus started with a stopover in Copenhagen. I’ve never been there, so I decided to take advantage of those couple of hours between the flights and explore the city in a search for a local print and art book scene.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieCopenhagen – the midday rush. Is there even any traffic here?! It was so quiet it was deafening!

The first stop on a road was the Cinnober Bookstore. It was a very interesting, minimalistic space with selected book assortment on design and art.

Next place on the ‘Must-See’ list is Officin. It’s a space in Vesterbro – red lantern district, inside a building previously occupied by a porn cinema. Officin is a publishing house, exhibition space and a print workshop (Riso A2!!! and typical typography techniques).

Unfortunately, even after two attempts I did not manage to get in and had to satisfy myself with just peeking through the window… Quite a show for passersby, a desperate guy waiting around in front of a prior porn cinema…

 

The last spot on my short route was CMYK Kld. It’s a small gallery, mainly set on selling graphics and drawings. They have lots of screen prints and riso graphics in their collection, but also an impressive catalog of zines and self-published publications, straight from the hands of collaborating artists. Despite its small size, it’s definitely worth a visit!

 

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Meeting up in Aarhus

My trip to the festival was a result of an invite that I got from the organizers with a request to host a conference talk called Making Public. Apart from me in the event took part guests from Belgium, Norway, USA and South Africa. The whole thing started with shared dinner in a hotel reserved for the festival.

I love events like this because it’s such an amazing opportunity to meet people living in different worlds. On the very first day, we could learn how much we are alike and different in the terms of publishing practices. The festival was opened with a whole day of workshops for all invited guest speakers. The goal of this was to create a collaboratory festival publication, combining experiences of all of those taking part.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

First, we created a mind map on the wall with phrases connected to our professional pursuits and created the main idea for the zine.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Then we were printing zines until late, using different techniques. Printer, typewriter, templates etc.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieDrying prints on the drying rack for clothes?

Zines – obsession, chatter, and clutter

This edition of the ABZ (Art Book Zinefest) was entirely dominated by the zines. The very next day we could learn during the exhibition opening the festival, how much of a universal and democratic form of expression zine is, but also of it’s good (and bad) sides.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieExhibition bookcase, and there – 2 books and 1 zine from the Oficyna

My thoughts, being a part of this community for a while, are:

1) creators of zines and their audience play roles that intermingle in bizarre ways

2) zine creators are a bunch of talkative collectors (of paintings, stories, opinions)

3) zine audiences are people obsessed with collecting

A huge part of the exhibition consisted of works sent in from an open-call. But for me, the spotlight stole the archives presented by the invited guests. It’s really incredible to see how every one of the zine collectors becomes a distinguished curator, which path they take and through what criteria they choose whats noteworthy. On the festival exhibition, we could observe a whole spectrum of collections put together basing on different criteria – the political-ideological, aesthetic, print value, collaborative work etc.

In this context, our artbooks (I took Hodowanie made by Sylwia Walczkowska and newly published Instytut by Gabriel Orłowski) were strikingly ‘book-like’ – classic, conservative form, with hard, textile cover, title pages, and footers, linear narrative, vintage visuals, and conjectures. It’s really cool to see publications published for ourselves in this light.

Dokk1 – a library of the XXI century

It’s also worth to mention about the main space of the festival – Dokk1. It’s a super modern library, apparently acclaimed in rankings as number 1 in the world! The lowest floor is way below the sea level.
Ordering a book you can follow its path through the intricate canals and corridors, thanks to a camera located inside of the dispenser.

But on the daily Dokk1 is full of life culture center. In a single space musical events, working open space, conferences, exhibitions, and workshops coexist in harmony, with additional space and care for children. Oh yeah, and you can borrow books too 🙂

The conference – Day 1

Straight to the point – I love conferences! The problem is that there are cool and lame conferences, latter being more common. The main problem is dullness – but that was definitely not the case with the ABZ speakers. Despite the small audience, it was really lively!

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieFragment of the conference opening presentation by Abdul Dube on printing tools evolution in the cause of self-publishing

The first days’ program was combined with 5 presentations in which the keyword was ‘activism’ or community engagement.

The first guest speaker was Aisha. She lives in a town (I don’t remember the name) 20km from Aarhus, that for the last couple of decades is a ghetto for the dregs of society (yes, that’s still a thing in an XXI century Scandinavia). Putting systemic mechanisms aside, and why does a place like this exists in the first place, Aisha focused her story on how the actions of artists-activists helped her get out of a cycle of poverty and violence. However what was especially interesting was that her story was not about getting out of the ghetto, but how she stayed and uses her artistic practice to work with the local community: she leads workshops on creating local publications. Self-publishing as a mean for public service? It was a very interesting presentation.

Another interesting presentation was almost a ‘performance’ of David Rickerby, sixty-year-old Brit, living in Denmark for years now. That’s another person with interesting past. Almost half of his life he spent in jail for robberies and assaults, only to finally discover his literary talent and emigrate to Denmark (he says it was not about social benefits). As a person not caring too much about the form, this outsider-writer never could (or wanted) find a middle ground with publishers. Because of that, he works in the field of self-publishing. What really made an impression on me was his writing style. The only form of story writing that works for him are testimonies. That’s why all of his stories either take the form of or are inspired by confessions to the officer. It sounds pretentious but all it takes is a look at this guy to know that he is authentic.

The conference – Day 2

Michał, your presentation will be the opening event for Saturday, okay? – asked Abdul, the main organizer of ABZ. Sure, I’d love that! What time should we start?

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieBeware of the crowds!

… yeah right. At 10:15 when the presentation was supposed to start, the majority of the potential audience was still turning in bed, catching up on sleep after the Fridays evening. But the few that managed to show up had nothing to regret. I prepared a really thought out presentation on work Oficyna puts out, the model on which we operate, and the educational values in the audience we build for our affairs.

The entire second day of the conference was much more focused on the trade aspect. After my presentation Anki from Bergen, Norway, showed up on the scene, presenting (in a very interesting way) history and backstage of the Bergen Artbook Fair. It is the biggest Scandinavian expo of its kind, and definitely a noteworthy event. And because we created a nice bond, I hope that Oficyna will be invited to Bergen next year 😃

Another presentation was a backstage of creation and work of Copenhagen Zine Fest. The history of the event again was caused by a brave person taking initiative. This time it was Anna, alumni of the comic school in Malmo, Sweden. When she came back to Copenhagen she was surprised by the division within the art community and decided to integrate it by organizing a festival. I really like this was of thinking – if you want to take part in a movement that doesn’t exist or works badly, you can’t just accept it and complain, but you get your hands dirty and make it yourself!

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieAnna from CphZineFest showing off a bike trailer with a moving library and zine workshop

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferiePoster of the Copenhagen ZineFest found in Copenhagen

Zine Expo

The last event in Dokk1 was the expo, in which part took local creators and guests invited by the organizers.

What stood out for me? Mainly the large numbers of the ephemeral publications, created with the most basic means in minimal numbers. Our stand in comparison looked very extensive, full of serious publications and high, for the standards, number of copies.

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna PeryferieShot from our stand facing the ABZ zinefest library

Dinner

The big finish was the open dinner for all taking part and invited to the festival. It was organized in one of the art workshops in the suburbs of Aarhus. It was put together in a form of the shared pot, and giving back money to people preparing the food. The leading idea of the evening was:

If you have more than you need
Build a long table instead of a high wall

Aarhus Zine Fest & Oficyna Peryferie

Conclusion

From Denmark, I brought many personal observations that worked as real food for thought. Because Oficyna is a for-profit firm on a commercial market that needs to earn a specific amount of money every month to survive, lots of it was surrounding finances. It surprised me how different Scandinavians think about fundraising

I have an idea > I apply for a donation > I make it

In this context my stories of how Oficyna works were almost a hyper-capitalistic manifesto. If we want to make something, first we need to make money for it and secure funds for a realization of a non-commercial project.

Meetings like those are really inspiring. They can freshen up your head, verify the dogmas and help you look at yourself in a different light.

Another thing is observation how diverse our community is. Zine creation is a space where all kinds of artistic personas can thrive: writers, graphics, punks, social activists, criminalists, children. A zine is an open form where everyone sets their own boundaries and rules.

And in this, I see the great value of this trip: lots of new stimuli for creation, publication, and conversation. It was worth it to go to Aarhus!

Michał Chojecki

Michał Chojecki

Founder of Oficyna Peryferie. Visual artist, author of art books and projects. Adjunct professor on Graphic Design Faculty in Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2015 he defended his PhD dissertation on art books

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