Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Editorial Strategies: Three Examples

Vision, #5, 1982

Titled “Artists’ Photographs,” this final issue of Vision (1975-82) brought to a close an important artists’ periodical that was edited by the San Francisco-based conceptual artist Tom Marioni. Committed to presenting the work of conceptual artists, Vision was conceived as being one part of the programming in Marioni’s larger conceptual art project—the Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA, 1975-84).

The format of this issue is an 8”x10” box containing 62 photographic reproductions printed individually on unbound pages. Marioni provides an introductory essay on his rationale for asking these conceptual artists “to send me a photograph not of an artwork but as an artwork,” as well as brief biographical information on these now, well-known artists. This last Vision serves a number of interesting roles, and illustrates how editors of this period sought to expand the parameters of the traditional magazine format by experimenting with new editorial models. Firstly, this issue serves as a catalogue for an exhibition of conceptual artists’ photographs that Marioni curated for the Crown Point Press Gallery in 1981. Secondly, in presenting a periodical as a box of unbound pages, he was referencing not only Duchamp, but also a number of other experimental artists’ periodicals from the previous two decades (Aspen, Fluxus, SMS). And finally, the periodical functions as a potential exhibition, indeed, it was exhibited in a number of university art galleries during this period. Back issues are still available for $50.

zingmagazine, #20, Winter, 2005

Weighing in at 2.5 lbs., 254 pages, and 3 inserts; a poster, CD and postcard, this latest issue of zingmagazine offers up an eclectic smorgasbord of artworks, projects, photographs and texts. Founded in New York in 1995 by Devon Dikeou, zingmagazine was created in order to serve as a link between the creative efforts of different individuals & groups working in a variety of media & disciplines. zingmagazine was envisaged as a site, or crossing point, through which collaborative exchanges could take place that would counter the isolation so often found between disciplines. In order to create a structure for this concept Dikeou adopted a curatorial model for the periodical, and each issue is built around the projects submitted by a rotating group of invited ‘curators,’ in what the magazine’s masthead calls “a curatorial crossing.” This issue contains works gathered by 14 curators, as well as an additional section that includes a mix of reviews, texts and interviews. The ‘zing’ in zingmagazine springs directly from its adoption of a publishing model from outside of the world of magazines.

Permanent Food, #14, 2006

A radically different approach to artists’ periodicals is represented by Permanent Food. Initiated in 1995 by the Italian neo-conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan in collaboration with Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, Permanent Food’s editorial model turns all the traditional approaches on their heads. Permanent Food is dependent on submissions of visual images, from a wide variety of contributors in the form of previously published magazine pages pilfered from a plethora of different contexts. About the periodical, Cattelan states, “from the very beginning we wanted Permanent Food to be a second generation magazine, something that grows by taking what’s already there. And I also wanted to have a magazine without personality. So the more personalities were involved, the less the magazine would have looked like the product of a single person.” The results of this appropriationist recycling model can be seen in this 194 page issue, and it’s a hilarious, weird, jarring, oddball and ultimately wonderful cornucopia of images culled from our collective image bank—all reshuffled together in this printed matter mosh pit.

Note: These texts were originally published in the College Art Association (CAA) News in a column titled The Bookshelf, November, 2006.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Boxed Up:
Time Capsules, Archives and High Performance

A recent story from Tulsa, Oklahoma, reported on a “ruined” time capsule built in 1957. The capsule was opened this year during Oklahoma’s Centennial celebrations, but it had leaked and the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere inside had been pickled for the past 50 years in four feet of standing water. While the Tulsa capsule was undone by the ravages of time—precisely what it was constructed to keep out—there is one interesting footnote to this spectacular failure. Interred in the capsule were the results of a competition to see who could get the closest to guessing the town’s new population when the capsule was to be opened in 2007. No winner has yet been announced but they (or their descendents”) win the car and a savings account worth $1,000, which all goes to show that the past is always present and it can come back anytime to bite you.

From time capsules to archives is an easy transition—both contain a body of records/documents “pertaining to an organization or institution.”1 One important difference between the time capsule and the archive is that the time capsule attempts to, “store for posterity a selection of objects thought to be representative of life at a particular time.”2 Archives are less picky, and it is well understood that their real significance might not be fully appreciated until some time in the future.

Archive appears to be a flexible term, one that can be used to describe the physical place or locale of the collected material, as well as a conceptual frame that sifts artifacts and intellectual information. Indeed, the archive, time capsule, and magazine are not that different. All sift and sort information, arrange it into a predetermined format, and all have a complicated relationship to the present. The magazine records the now for immediate consumption, the time capsule preserves the now of then for the then of now, and the archive preserves everything for later. All are united in their capacity to store things, to bring stuff together from different pasts and for different futures, and all converge at the collection point of the archive.

Patricia Kelly, a contemporary art historian at DePaul University in Chicago, in an abstract for a chapter in a book about artists’ periodicals, writes about Phyllis Johnson’s Aspen magazine (which published ten issues between 1965 and 1971) and how each issue of the periodical with its mixed media contributions gathered inside a box served as “as a veritable time capsule, providing insight into a fraught historical period.…”3 Indeed, there are two issues of Aspen that do have unique combinations of objects that have come to be viewed as representative of specific cultural and historical moments: the “Pop Art Issue” designed by Andy Warhol and David Dalton (#3, 1966) and “The Minimal Issue” edited by Brian O’Doherty (#5/6, 1967). Here we have a magazine that illustrates one aspect of its etymological definition as a “storehouse”4 while simultaneously functioning as a unique time capsule. Additionally, from the historian’s point of view, the opening of the time capsule offers a tantalizingly ephemeral whiff of the past.

High Performance, Vol. 2, #4, Winter 1979-80
Warhol, as it would later turn out, had a much deeper and long-lasting association with archives. In the middle 1970s, ten years after Aspen’sPop Art Issue,” he began to keep a cardboard box next to his desk into which he would regularly sweep a Wunderkammer of printed matter. At the time of his death in 1987, six hundred and twelve of these dated and sealed boxes were discovered in storage. Warhol was evidently ambivalent about these “time capsules,” as he called them, saying, “I want to throw things right out the window as they’re handed to me, but instead I say thank you and drop them into the box-of-the-month. But my other outlook is that I really do want to save things so that they can be used again.”5

In a 1978 diary entry, Warhol considered another strategy: “I really ought to auction off my time capsule boxes … but I would try to make every box a little interesting. I’d throw in one of my dresses, an old shirt, a pair of underwear—something great in each one.”6 Here, Warhol sets in opposition two different ideas about the archive: that somehow they are neutral and that their accumulation of material happens organically versus an archive whose significance and value has been artificially enhanced. Either way, the traditionally coy image of the archive is sexed up by a contemporary gesture.

The archive and the time capsule come together in a unique convergence in an artists’ periodical dedicated to documenting the history of performance art. Appropriately titled High Performance, it was launched by Linda Frye Burnham in 1978 and continued publishing quarterly until 1997. High Performance’s mission was to document and publicize the emerging history of this ephemeral and time-based art, with Burnham insisting that the magazine would be “nothing more than a chronicle of events,” and it would function like a “white box” for the publication of performance documentation: “…a kind of frame for each piece … [as if it were] … hanging in a gallery.”7

High Performance’s documentary publishing model found its fullest expression during its first couple of years in a section called “Artist’s Chronicle” that featured photographic documentation and texts submitted by artists of their performances. Each issue also sought submissions of performance documentation of works performed within a specific time period for consideration for the next issue. The magazine was filled out by this key documentary function and each new “Artist’s Chronicle” now reads like a performance art time capsule.

High Performance, Vol. 1, #3, September 1978
In 1980, two years after High Performance started publishing, Burnham wrote an editorial that proposed discontinuing the “Artist’s Chronicle” section. She claimed that this feature had outlived its usefulness, that taking up 50% of each of the first eleven issues, the format was getting repetitious and that people were even creating performances just to get in the magazine. 8  In the next issue, she acknowledged the uproar this proposal provoked from both readers and performance artists and the “Artist’s Chronicle” was re-instated as an annual feature, freeing up the remaining three issues to experiment with new formats and coverage. As performance art matured, as it crossed disciplinary boundaries, and as a critical and theoretical dialogue was established, High Performance developed a more nuanced approach to what it documented and reported of this newly emerging multidisciplinary art form.

Despite these changes, there is one feature that did not change throughout High Performance’s life, and that was the importance & power of photography to document the beginnings of a new medium. Unlike the Tulsa time capsule, High Performance’s past has not come back to bite it, indeed the magazine's role has only expanded over time, and the results of its documentary mission have been transformed during the intervening years into a primary historical record of a late 20th century ephemeral art form.

High Performance succinctly illustrates the other side of photography's documentary function, and that is the archival role that photographs perform. In recognition of this the Getty Museum in 2005, accepted the donation of the High Performance archives into its institution.9  Thus, this archive, turned time capsule for the years 1978-1997, now sits boxed up in a climate controlled environment deep in the heart of an institution devoted to the acquisition & preservation of works of historical value. The larger & symbolic trajectory contained within this 27 year time-period is the movement of this avant-garde artform from the periphery of the art world to its embrace by one of the country's key cultural & research institutions.10

Stephen Perkins 2007

1. The American Heritage Dictionary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2nd edition, 1985).
2. From “What is a Time Capsule?” The International Time Capsule Society: www.oglethorpe,edu/about_us.
3. Patricia Kelly, “Aspen Magazine, Outside of the Box” (abstract), 2007.
4. The American Heritage Dictionary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2nd edition, 1985).
5. The Andy Warhol Museum, Andy Warhol’s Time Capsule 21 (Cologne, Germany: DuMont, 2003), 14. I would argue that despite Warhol’s description of these boxes as “time capsules” these heterogeneous and indiscriminate collections of printed matter fall more properly within a definition of “archive” than “time capsule.” A time capsule indicates a much more rigorous procedure for selecting objects to be contained within the capsule. My understanding of Warhol’s criteria for inclusion in a box was that there wasn’t one.
6. Ibid., 8.
7. High Performance, No. 3 (1978), Editorial, 1
8. High Performance, No. 11/12 (1980), Editorial, 166.
9. Phone conversation with Lynda Frye Burnham, July 26, 2007.
10. This text originally appeared in Afterimage, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2007, under the title "Boxed Up: Time Capsules, Archives, and Magazines." This special issue was guest edited by David Brittain around the theme of "Photography and the Archive." 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bibliography (in progress)



Aarons, E. Philip and Andrew Roth (eds). In Numbers: Series Publications by Artists Since 1955. France: Jrp/Ringier & PPP Editions, NY, 2009.

Allen, Gwen. Artist's Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011.

Boivent, Marie. La Revue D'Artiste: Enjeux et Specificites d'une Pratique Artistique, Rennes, France: Editions Incertain Sens, 2015

Boivent, Marie and Stephen Perkins (eds). The Territories of Artists' Periodicals. Rennes, France and De Pere, USA: Editions Provisoires and Plagiarist Press, 2015

Gibson, Ann. Issues in Abstract Expressionism: The Artist-Run PeriodicalsAnn Arbor:UMI Research Press, 1990.

Held, Jr., John. Bay Area Dada. San Francisco/New York: Snowman Publications, 1998
Penezcky, Geza. Assembling Magazines. Budapest: Arnyekkotok Foundation, 2007.

Pernezcky, Geza. The Magazine Network. (Hungarian version) Budapest, Kiadja: Hettoronly Konyvkiado, 1991.

Pernezcky, Geza. The Magazine Network.  Trans. by Tibor Szendrei.  Koln: 
Soft Geometry, 1993.

Exhibition Catalogues

Boivent, Marie, ed. One Page Magazines. Journal du Cabinet du Livre D'Artiste (#28, 2013), Universite Rennes, France, 2013 [includes one page insert by Joseph Ernst, One Page Magazine, March 2013]
Boivent, Marie, ed. Revues d'Artistes: Une Selection. Rennes/Paris: Co-édition Arcade, Lendroit Galerie et Editions Provisoires, 2008

Coracle Press, The Artist Publisher: A Survey by Coracle Press. London: Crafts Council Gallery, 1986
Dittmar, Rolf and Jurgen O. Olbrich. Art Journaux: Die Kunst der Zeitschrift. Kassel: Kasseler Kunstverein und die Herausgeber und Kunstler, 2000
 Olbrich, Jurgen O. International Artists-Magazines. Nurnberg: 
Art Nurnberg, 1991
 Perkins, Stephen, ed. Assembling Magazines: International Networking Collaborations. Iowa City: Plagiarist Press, 1996
Saper, Craig. Networking Artists & Poets: Assemblings from the Ruth & Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Rosenwald Gallery Van Pelt-Dietrich Libary, 1997

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Of Piss @N' Pus & Dancing with Wolves

Of Piss @N' Pus, #5, 2002 
Of Piss @N' Pus, #5, 2002 (inside cover) 
Of Piss @N' Pus, #5, 2002 (inside pages)
Of Piss @ND Pus, #7, 2002
Of Piss @ND Pus, #7, 2002 (inside pages)
Of Piss @N' Pus, #9, 2002
Of Piss @N' Pus, #9, 2002 (inside pages) 
Of Piss @N' Pus, #11, 2002
Of Piss @N' Pus, #11, 2002 (inside pages)
Of Piss @N' Pus, #11 , 2002 (inside pages)
Of Piss @N' Pus, #12, 2002

Of Piss @N' Pus, #12, 2002

Dancing with Wolves, #1, 2012

Dancing with Wolves, #1, 2012 (inside cover)

Dancing with Wolves, #1 2012 (inside pages)

Of Piss @N' Pus

(& Dancing with Wolves)


Twenty-five years ago, when the Nazis fled from Belgium, my native country, after four years of military occupation, I saw people burning in the streets all over the country whatever had been German: books, magazines, records, films... Buildings which had been occupied, or built, by the Germans were dynamited. The Belgians wanted to erase forever whatever had been part of the Deutschland Kultur. (Toche, 1969)1
It's not easy being Jean Toche—at almost eighty he's still waging war against the hypocrisy and stupidity of our national and political culture. Since the early '90s, from his secure location in Staten Island, he's been sending out bold, loud and outraged handbills that contain his responses and suggestions for making things better, and how to keep the bozos away from the levers of power. An exposer of fraudsters, poseurs, politicians, hypocrites, government agencies and the art world, Toche started with single sheets of text that were mailed out to around 50 people at a time, then he centralized this activity in his artists' periodical Of Piss @N' Pus (2002).2 Each of the periodical's 12 monthly issues contain individually signed and designed handbills from a specific month. Using quotes from mainstream media sources (New York Times & Wall Street Journal), Toche combines these with his own texts to critique, challenge and ridicule a wide range of political and cultural events. These are serious and often outrageous attacks on the body politic but they always contain a hint of humor. Toche does not exclude himself from these critiques either. Each page is printed on different colored papers, often with assorted pre-printed designs and he creates different typographic layouts for each page. Bound together by a removable plastic binder these original page works are presented in an economical, and modest format that is in elegant contrast to the extravagance of Toche's critiques and the challenges he aims at bombastic politicians and their ilk.
At the same time as Toche started this periodical he was encouraged by Jon Hendricks, a former artistic partner, to experiment with digital technology. He acquired a new printer that enabled him to print works up to 10 feet long and a digital camera and software with which he began to create, and manipulate, an archive of self-portraits. It is from this latter collection that he chooses the self-portraits in his now standard practice of combining digitally manipulated self-portraits with his own and mass media texts. From 2002 up until quite recently he was printing his works in sizes that varied from 6 - 10 feet long. Recent issues with the wholesale supplier of this photographic paper has necessitated him working in a reduced format of 11" x 8". Once again in order to streamline distribution of these works he has adopted a folder format to distribute small groups of works. One of the first of these publications I received from Toche was in May 2012 and it was titled Dancing with the Wolves, Vol. #1. Other similar mailings have not included the periodical title, which suggests that Dancing with the Wolves might have been a one-off periodical.

Toche also has something of a history of intervening in situations in order to get his voice and opinion heard. As one of the founding members, with Jon Hendricks of the Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG, 1969-76), they communicated their views by writing letters & sending handbills of protest to their adversaries, and sometimes they created actions to draw particular attention to an issue.3 One celebrated event was the "blood bath" action that took place on November 10, 1969, in the foyer of the Museum of Modern Art, in which Hendricks, Toche, Johnson and Silvianna4 staged a fight in which the bags of blood hidden under their clothes burst and splattered the participants. The text that was left at the scene demanded the resignation of all the Rockefellers from the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art because of their involvement with the 'war machine.'

Four years later the museums would get their revenge. On February 28, 1974, Toche, under the auspices of the 'Ad Hoc Artists' Movement for Freedom,' sent a handbill to assorted museums, newspapers and individuals in New York City in which he demanded a number of things, including the kidnapping of museum "trustees, directors, administrators, curators, & benefactors," and for them to be held as war hostages until a People's Court could be convened to "...deal specifically with the cultural crimes of the ruling class..." Toche, with solidarity from the arts community, fought the kidnap charges for more than a year before the government dropped all its charges.

Toche was 12 years old when he witnessed the events he describes at the beginning of this text, and the powerful image of Belgium's WWII anti-Nazi purge and the frenzied eradication of all Deutschland Kultur provided a vivid experience of the power of culture and the culture of power. Since his arrival in the US in 1965, Toche has waged his own war against a culture he despises, and that's our culture of political corruption, inequality and discrimination, to name but a few. However, one thing can be stated with certainty—Toche's fight will be a fight to the end!5

Stephen Perkins, 2012

1. Jean Toche, ltr. (Oct. 9, 1969) concerning the 7th Annual Avant Garde Festival, in GAAG: 1969-1976, Printed Matter: New York, 1978, unpaginated: Introduction.

2. Various issues of Of Piss @N' Pus have different dates: #1-5: 2003, #7-12: 2002. Despite these different dates the publication was published monthly during 2002. Confirmation of these dates can be found in Kristine Stile's exhibition catalogue "Jean Toche: Impressions from the Rogue Bush Imperial Presidency," presented at Duke University's John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, Duke University Center for International Studies, 2009. In footnote #5, page 14 she states that she received the periodicals by mail from Toche and they were all postdated 2002.

3. Other collaborators and members of GAAG, were Virginia Poe (Toche), and Poppy Johnson.

4. Silvianna was an artist/filmmaker and participated in this action only, (in GAAG: 1969-1976).

5. Printed Matter in New York has recently reprinted their invaluable 1978 sourcebook about GAAG, titled: GAAG: The Guerrilla Art Action Group, 1969 - 1976 : A Selection, Jon Hendricks & Jean Toche, New York, NY: Printed Matter Inc., 2011.  Printed Matter also has some of Toche's publications for sale as well as copies of Of Piss @N' Pus #2 for $3.  http://www.printedmatter.org/

Friday, July 20, 2012


Call for works for Stampzine #6, 2000 

Stampzine #1, 1995

Stampzine #1, 1995 (inside pages)

Stampzine #2, 1996
Stampzine #2, 1996 (inside pages)
Stampzine #2, 1996 (inside pages)

Stampzine #3, 1997

Stampzine #3, 1997 (inside pages)

Stampzine (l-r):#5, 1999, #6, 2000, #4, 1998 

Stampzine (l-r):#6, 2000, #5, 1999, #4, 1998

Stampzine (insides pages from above three issues)


This interview with Bill Gaglione, editor of Stampzine, took place in San Francisco in 1995. Six issues of Stampzine were published between 1995-2000.
Stephen Perkins: One thing that I am really interested in is assembling magazines and you did a Vile assembling, was that the first one you'd done?

Bill Gaglione: I think so...

SP: You adopted the assembling technique because it was the best way of working...

BG: I had just got back from Europe and I was in Eastern countries and I saw what was going on, they were doing those type of magazines, I was aware of that, but I saw a lot of it, and I said wow! Again it was the money factor, who had to money to publish? So it was a nice way to put a publication together.

SP: So you connect assemblings with the former Eastern bloc countries?

BG: Most of the publications that I saw there were assembling type publications, so I was really influenced by that. In 1970 we toured Eastern Europe.

SP: Which magazines?

BG: Off hand I can't remember, they were so obscure. Pawel Petasz type magazines or rubber stamp magazines. Galantai in Budapest, he showed me a lot of stuff. Again when I got back I said I wanted to do an issue of Vile, but I don't want to go through the hassle of getting the grant, actually Anna did most of that. And I wanted to do color and it was strictly rubber stamps and it was a weird size. I got to give credit 'cause I had to cut each page 300 times and then stamp it 300 times. It's a really nice issue, it's thick, it's huge, I think 185 artists sent pages. Another aspect of assemblings was that I liked the collating, because I used to call all my friends and it's a nice social way to get together, instead of just sitting there drinking and getting stoned, which we did, but we worked and it was fun. Especially that one, it took us all day, I had about 50 people. My friend was a teacher at a school and we laid these tables out and we walked around and we had food and drink, it was really fun. So that aspect was really nice also, plus it's inexpensive, because basically you design the cover and your course is basically putting it together and mailing it out, and you have to do that anyway. Plus you can do color, limited edition, also that's another reason why I liked this concept.

SP: In the sense of?

BG: That it's limited. Once it goes, it goes. Also, whoever contributed got a free issue that was a nice way of distributing that book.

SP: So had you contributed to assemblings before?

BG: Oh yea, Kostelanetz, a lot of stuff in Europe, all through my sort of quote "mail art career." I've liked them the best 'cause I always used rubber stamps, it's a real home made feel, real artsy fartsy.

I've got to hand it to Kostelanetz 'cause he really did a lot of them. Then I did a magazine called Stamp Art in the '80s. It was the same thing, they were all hand stamped, that was my only requirement, I told people you can do anything you want but each page has to be hand stamped at least once, and the rest you could do anything you want.

Now you might find the cover interesting [picking up a copy of Stamp Art]. This is the first four color stamp ever made, and it was basically a photograph and we got the separations made our of rubber instead of... So we did five issues there, Vile and then they called us stamp art. Eventually I will mail you a copy. So that's the only two assembling-type magazines that I did and I'm thinking about doing another in the '90s. I'm helping a woman called Patricia to do one now, she's doing an assembling-type where you mail in 50 copies, so I have been involved with that.