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Old art books were good because there was no television. New art books are less good because there is the internet. New art books are generally dull, allowing for exceptions. Big new art books are usually even less good because they are about someone whose work you know and has a show at Tate. Self-published artist books seemed great 20 years ago. They were free of economic or institutional constraints and gave voice to marginalised communities. Then capital swallowed that up as entertainment; so they are also not good anymore. I buy self-published books and publish books by artists – so somehow must not believe much of the above. — Gregorio Magnani, publisher of ublication

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Loose Joints is dedicated to contemporary photography or contemporary readings of the recent past. We have long believed that the intrinsic nature of the photobook – both the experience of reading a photobook in terms of its relationship as an object with time, rhythm and sequence, and also the photobook’s capacity for dissemination and reproduction – make it the ideal vehicle for displaying and discussing photography. This gives photobooks a political and social imperative: to choose what to show, not to wallow in nostalgia, exclusivity or pretentiousness, but to be dynamic objects of conversation and accessibility. We produce our books looking forward, towards the future that images themselves ultimately usher in, through our projections of society and our relationships as beings tangled within its webs of culture. — Lewis Chaplin, publisher of Loose Joints

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I like to look at the pictures. — Paul Housley, artist

 

Making art books today is a nonsense; economically, anyway. It is impossible to live from this practice by counting on the sale of books. So it is necessarily their symbolic capital that dominates, and the fact that in order to have the means to exist, fine books must rely on the support of those who have the means to finance their production. It is a paradox, because they are indispensable to the contemporary world. It is a world of flux, speed, and information that pushes another one. Including in art! One exhibition drives out another, one artist drives out another, et cetera. Books are our most wonderful means of taking a “break”, of getting out of the flow to immerse ourselves in these emotions, of feeling them not once, but a thousand times, of deepening them. And also to make them interact with each other: what could be more beautiful than the shelves of our libraries? These mental landscapes say so much about us. It is a refuge, and also something to transmit. Are we going to pass on web links to our loved ones? No, but books, what a joyful vertigo... — David Desrimais, director of JBE Books

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A friend used The Artist’s Body by Amelia Jones to kill a mouse in her New York City apartment. — Emma Astner, co-founder of Koppe Astner

 

With photographers, the book is the real finished work. You can get 300 works into one space and create a narrative that you can’t create in an exhibition, where you don’t have the space to do that. Photography exhibitions are highly edited and tend to be a “best-of”; the selection is going to be more of a commercial selection. You get a real feel for the artist through a book. — Will Westall, sales and marketing manager at Prestel Publishing

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I’ve always found art books to offer a very particular, intimate way of experiencing an artwork; one in which you can encounter an artist’s train of thought over the course of several years, days, or even minutes. There’s no jostling for a better look, no crowds. No braving the Central Line on a Saturday afternoon. You can fit an art book in your bag, read it on the bus, in the park, take it to bed. You can remember it again years later, pick it up off the shelf, and discover a photograph inside that you can’t believe you missed before. I’m also intrigued by the unique sensory experience of an art book, in which you can understand something new about a series of photographs, or drawings, through the texture of the paper they’re printed on, the particular shine of the ink, or a surprising weight to the book. It’s an art form that is as much bound to touch and feel as it is to colour, form and narrative. — Liv Constable-Maxwell, commissioning editor at MACK

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Art books at best tap into anxieties, frustrations and a mood that resonates across society; however, that is not to say that is their primary function. One must not be afraid to stand out, while likewise not merely reacting or becoming a political reactionary. Public opinion is fickle and easily shaped by markets, tastemakers and PR Svengalis (as is the majority of what we know as “society”). If something can act as a lightning rod or articulate something that might not be so clearly formed across other media, then that is maybe the biggest compliment (art) books and discourse could ask for. Social contracts are fragile. They also need an update. However when razing something to the ground, be aware of what could replace it. — Steven Warwick, artist and writer

Art Brut. The Book Of Books. Elisa Berst

Art books are as essential as art. They are the life-blood of communication, giving illumination, depth of understanding and a voice to ideas, through pictures, design and intention. Whether catalogues, artist-created zines and all manner of indie publications, they fascinate me and demand I collect them to form a library of thoughts about art, as well as sheer worthwhile documentation. In our digital age – long live print! — Maureen Paley, founder and director of Maureen Paley

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Book sales have increased dramatically in recent years. Book production is ever more elaborate. The independent bookshop scene, while still fragile, could be said to be flourishing when many predicted its demise. We are experiencing an unexpected golden age for magazine production. A key reason for this good news is that Generation Z in particular, the first to have grown up in the digital age, have quickly understood that alongside the extraordinary facility and opportunities presented by the internet, they need tangible and trustworthy documents that articulate and archive their experiences and discoveries. Even a fastidiously kept online digital archive can be lost or corrupted in seconds. A beautiful artist’s book or a well-designed and edited magazine (perhaps accompanied by an intellectually rigorous text or cultural statement that can be linked to a real person and their opinion, and so not regurgitated by an AI Bot or ChatGPT programme) fulfils a desire to feel connected to real things; things that catalogue an experience lived and provide the basis for a personal archive. The humble printed page comes to the rescue as an anchor in a turbulent digital age. — Charles Asprey, co-founder and editor of PICPUS PRESS

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A “book” could be a free paper pamphlet sent out anonymously in the post or given away at a particular site or context; it could be a limited-edition tome with precious paper stocks and elaborate binding; it could be a compendium of previously unseen or inaccessible material; it could be an artwork in itself, whether or not it is exclusively or widely circulated. Both the format of an art book and the way it is distributed feel significant. Aleksandra Mir, Fiona Banner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Kandis Williams and Kwamé Sorrell are artists I have worked with who incorporate radical publishing ideas into their practices. ◉ — Lucy Kumara Moore, artist, writer and book dealer 

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