[& so now infused with new old memories. & so now back again and subject to the flux, again. There is much to be done. Where did we begin?]
Recently the Pacific Center for Book Arts opened up registration for their annual printers’ fair. And the meetings for planning the 2010 San Francisco Zine Fest are underway, with registration opening soon. The CUNY Chapbook Fair hangs indeterminately in the future, and the 2011 Codex Fair, a year away, is moving as fast as it can. And all of these upcoming fairs, oddly, make me think about fairs.
Over the past few years art fairs have become a big deal. A lot of money gets spent on them, and even more money gets spent at them. For the moment of the fair the spectacle can expand and infect every piece of culture held up in sacrifice to it. And so we need not concern ourselves with such fairs. [If we ignore the raging and ravaging of the spectacle, will it cease to exist, cease to have power? Doubtful. We must produce against it. Hold your labor like a knife, like the blade of a plow. Cut into the spectacle like it was the land, it is the first land of culture.]
The concern then is small fairs, sometimes local fairs, sometimes not. (Sometimes one gets lucky and an international fair happens in the city where you live.) Fairs have become, over the past few years, my favorite mode of public display for the work. Mainly because the format allows one to sidestep the issue of “display” altogether. The books are there, on the table in front of their maker/seller, and they are there available for full perusal. No gloves and no cases. And if you like one, and if there’s more than one of the one that you like, chances are you will be able to take one home.
And not only do potential readers get to handle and interact with the work, but I get to interact with all of those potential readers as well. And “the crowd” at every show is actually made up of two groups: the people that come in to see the show, and the people that are there exhibiting as well as looking. And we are all there together, a community is visible, the connections are felt. And the community always gets a little bit bigger with every show. It reminds one of the necessity of kindness in this endeavor.
[Hold your kindness like a knife, like the blade of a plow…]