/edition taps into the art book trend at Art Toronto

This weekend, find out how artists are pushing the boundaries of what a book can be at Toronto's first international book fair

/EDITION at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, October 28-31. Free. editiontoronto.com. See listing.

Forget contemplating art from a respectable distance. At /edition, Toronto’s newest and first international art book fair, you’re encouraged to handle the art. Happening at the same time and in the same location as Art Toronto (October 28-31), the first /edition taps into the growing trend of art taking book form – and challenging the very definition of what a book is.

Unlike what you’ll find at a book fair, such as the International Festival of Authors or Word on the Street, where the publishing and book-selling industries tend to dominate, art book fairs focus on artist-initiated publications that don’t always fit a traditional mold for either books or art. Independent book publishers rub shoulders with commercial galleries and artist collectives at /edition where the written word, printed images, massive sculptural books, small works of art that comes in multiple editions can all can be found, ready to be contemplated in their own ways.

Danielle St. Amour, an advisor to /edition and director of not-for-profit Art Metropole (which specializes in artists’ publications since its founding by General Idea in 1974), says that art books often push the boundaries of what a book is and how we experience them. “In the same way as a painting or drawing is a medium, the book is a medium,” she explains. “An artist’s book is both a book and a precious object. People are rethinking what publishing is. Every time someone hails the death of the book, it tends to come back even stronger.”

Art Metropole has seen how artists are carving out their own niche with books, earning respect at art fairs such as Art Basel Miami and Switzerland and as the foundation of Printed Matter’s New York and Los Angeles art book fairs. Art book fairs have popped up from Vancouver to London, Singapore to Senegal. Toronto itself now has two art book fairs, along with ‘zine fairs like Canzine that often also feature artists’ publications.

While this summer’s Toronto Art Book Fair offered a similar glimpse into the world of art books and the artists who make them, /edition’s proximity to Art Toronto stands out as the biggest contrast between the fairs, bringing in a different audience at a different time of year and adding a certain context to the event. “Art Metropole has been involved in both and each has its own angle,” says St. Amour. “They both fill a need in the city to bring to light the international attention being paid to artists publishing right now.”

Spearheaded by Division Gallery and the Magenta Foundation, with the boost of Art Toronto as official co-host, /edition expands the idea of what an international art book fair in Toronto can be while remaining accessible and community-driven. “Art book fairs could be said to be equal parts social environment and art fair,” says St. Amour. “While it’s imperative for anyone with a table to be able to sell their wares, it’s also an opportunity to meet people who are doing the same thing.”

Since entry is free, /edition is also a place for someone who isn’t an art collector or doesn’t have a high price point to walk in, talk to artists and purchase a unique work that can be held in the hand, experienced in a way that is arguably more private and intimate.

“The intimate space of a book can be a good point of departure for people to start thinking differently about what art is and how artists produce,” adds St. Amour.


Courtesy of /edition Toronto

We Buy White Albums, by Rutherford Chang

Unmissable, contextual events

In the name of bringing art, ideas and people together within a specifically art book context, St. Amour and Art Metropole’s curator Nasrin Himada, in tandem with /edition Director and noted collector Bill Clarke, added one-of-a-kind workshops and discussions to the weekend’s programming, including:

  • A conversation between Norwegian artists Tanya Busse (of Mondo Books) and Joar Nango on considering printed material as part of political movements in communities in northern Norway and Russia.
  • A talk by Berlin-based UK artist Hannah Black, on her newest book Dark Pool Party and her art practices that straddle feminism, black radical theory, autobiography, “pop music, hope and hopelessness.” Co-presented by Art Toronto.
  • New York artist Rutherford Chang’s We Buy White Albums, a record-store-like installation of more than 1500 copies of the Beatles’ 1968 album.
  • The Persistence of Print panel presentation between web-positive artists and publishers Ana Barajas, Robert Dayton, Annie Koyama and Flavio Trevisan, moderated by Art Gallery of Ontario’s Manager of Publishing Jim Shedden.
  • How to Read Artists Books workshops with artists Walter Scott (on the topic of the tote bag) and Joshua Vettivelu (on dyslexia and the failures of language.)

Find out more here.

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