Success in art usually comes through tenacity. I will try not to flinch.

From the post 2 days ago:

[…] I wonder about the idea of “reception,” about democratic multiples, un-democratic multiples, and un-multiplied multiples. I wonder about accessibility, both economic and aesthetic/conceptual. What kind of accessibility, economic or aesthetic/conceptual, or both, qualifies a piece as “democratic?” I wonder about legibility, and if that is different from accessibility. […]

Of course everything is related, and the current re-evaluation of the NewLights Press is meshed with larger theoretical-aesthetic-social concerns about books and bookmaking in general. So we are back to the “democratic multiple,” we are back to the form-content-production-reception model. The articulation of “reception,” and how it is addressed, embodied, and activated through the work remains one of the most difficult (productive) problems. We will start by pulling at this term “democratic,” the words pulled along in its wake (“accessible” and “legible”) and some discussion from some of the canonical literature.

democracy n. a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives. A state governed in such a way. Control of a group by the majority of its members.
ORIGIN C16: from Fr. democratie, via late L. from Gk demokratia, from demos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule’.

democratic adj. of, relating to, or supporting democracy. Egalitarian. [1]

[…] Artists’ books have existed since early in the century but as a named phenomenon they surfaced with conceptual art in the sixties, part of a broad, if naïve, quasi-political resistance to the extreme commodification of artwork and artists. Accessibility and some sort of function were an assumed part of their raison d’etre. Still, despite sincere avowals of populist intent, there was little understanding of the fact that the accessibility of the cheap, portable form did not carry over to that of the contents—a basic problem in all of the avant-garde’s tentative moves towards democratization in the sixties and early seventies. The New York art world was so locked into formal concerns (even those of us who spent a lot of time resisting them) that we failed to realize that, however neat the package, when the book was opened by a potential buyer from “the broader audience” and he or she was baffled, it went back on the rack. […] [2]

[…] Undeniably true as both the historical facts and critical conceptions expressed in these lines may be, they have given rise […] to certain misconceptions or myths about artists’ books. The first of these is that it is necessary for artists’ books to be inexpensive works in unnumbered or unlimited editions. The second is that they should be produced in a small format, through commercial means. The third is that this produces a democratic artform—one whose democracy resides in its affordability rather than in the accessibility of its content. […] [3]

access n. 1 the means or opportunity to approach or enter a place. The right or opportunity to use something or see someone. 2 retrieval of information stored in a computer’s memory. 3 an attack or outburst of an emotion: an access of rage. v. 1 gain access to; make accessible. Computing: obtain, examine, or retrieve (data). 2 approach or enter.
ORIGIN ME: from L. accessus, from accedere (see accede).

accessible adj. 1 able to be accessed. 2 friendly and easy to talk to; approachable. 3 easily understood or appreciated.

legible adj. (of handwriting or print) clear enough to read.
ORIGIN ME: from late L. legibilis, from legere ‘to read’. [4]

1. All definitions are from: Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 10th Edition, revised, ed. Judy Pearsall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

2. Lucy Lippard, “Conspicuous Consumption: New Artists’ Books,” Artists’ Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook, ed. Joan Lyons (Rochester: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1985), 50.

3. Johanna Drucker, The Century of Artists’ Books, (New York: Granary Books, 1994), 72.

4. See footnote 1.

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