Category: Introducing — Published:
Established in 2005 in Oslo, Torpedo is run by Julie Leding, Elin Maria Olaussen and Karen Christine Tandberg, and produces artists’ books, art theory and critical readers in contemporary art. Both a publisher and a bookshop, the organisation is based at Kunsthall Oslo, in the Bjørvika area and has a shop and archive in an artist space at Kunstnernes Hus.
Both internationally and in Norway we have witnessed an increased focus on publishing. From our point of view we see art institutions paying more attention to the exhibition catalogue as a format, artists publishing as part of their practice, and increased attention to graphic design and involvement of graphic designers early in the process. In Norway art book publishing has expanded into a diverse scene with publishers specialising in photography books, fanzines and more ordinary art books.
“For us publishing is an act of collaboration and sharing of ideas and concepts.”
Elin Maria Olaussen at Torpedo Books
Coming from a country like Norway, the market for art books is small compared to places like New York, London and Berlin. That is also why we publish most of our titles in English aiming at an international audience. Even though we are located in the outskirts of Europe, our projects are not. Every book or project we do is based on collaboration – a collaboration between the artist, graphic designer, writer, editor and so on. Usually that also means collaboration between people located all over the world. Books travel and are not necessarily isolated to one region or country. For us, publishing is an act of collaboration and sharing of ideas and concepts.
Hurricane Publishing was established in 1999, and is based in Copenhagen. It is run by visual artists Vibe Bredahl and Cecilia Westerberg. At The London Art Book Fair Westerberg will launch her new book Atlas of Small and Large Observations (2015), featuring drawings about the wonders of the world.
Me and Vibe Bredahl [who established Hurricane Publishing in 1999] shared a studio for several years. In 2009 he invited me to participate in a project called “Short Stories” which featured stories sent as postcards – told in words or images – which was published by Hurricane. I work with 2-D digital but drawing-based narrative animation and it made good sense to work with books as well. Since then I have published seven very different kinds of artists’ books. Hurricane mostly promote and distribute our own books, in addition to other artists’ books, zines, art catalogues and poetry. At the fair we will have a focus on artists’ books based on drawing and storytelling without words.
“This year we participated in a touring exhibition of over 200 artists’ books. There is a lot of interest in artists’ books at the moment.”
Cecilia Westerberg at Hurricane Publishing
The scene in Denmark is quite active. There have been artists’ book fairs in different formats over the last couple of years in both Copenhagen and Århus. It is not easy to sell books but there is a big audience and luckily, we have a good funding system in Denmark, which makes it possible to produce printed books once in a while. This year we participated in a touring exhibition of over 200 artists’ books. There is a lot of interest in artists’ books at the moment.
Writer & visual artist Mette Karlsvik established Norwegian publishing house Spriten Forlag in 2013. Based in Skien, on an island that used to house a medieval monastery and more recently, a paper factory, they have produced four titles including Corridors (2014) a photo/documentary project by Berlin-based Norwegian artist Stine Gonsholt.
We are happy to be a tiny part of a blooming art-publishing scene in Norway. There are a lot of interesting projects, start-ups and initiatives. There are also a few good forums for exhibiting art publishing – we were happy to participate in the SKREV popup at Demon’s Mouth gallery in Oslo and we love the fact that curators, such as Kjersti Solbakken [at Feil Forlag], invite publishers into exhibition spaces such as Telemark kunstsenter in Skien.
“We look forward to seeing what the other participants are bringing to their tables. As we’re quite new to this game, we have a lot to learn. We will make London swing.”
Tom-Erik Lønnerød at Spriten Forlag
In terms of the most innovative artists/publishers working in the sector, we are in awe of Brooklyn-based Primary Information. We love the purist approach by Norwegian designers Eller med A and our favourite designer A Visual Agency, in Glasgow. We look forward to seeing what the other participants are bringing to their tables [at the London Art Book Fair]. As we are quite new to this game, we have a lot to learn. We will make London swing.
Oslo-based Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson is an artist whose work juxtaposes photography, sculpture and curating. At The London Art Book Fair 2015 he presents recent projects including A Sudden Drop, featuring photographs of clothing found on the streets between the artist’s home and studio, and participates in a panel discussion launching the book New Scandinavian Photography.
I started working on collaborative book projects together with German friends in the mid-2000s. It slowly evolved and independent publishing is now an established extension of my artistic praxis from my base in Oslo. I publish books dealing with photography in the expanded field, related to a number of problems within the use and understanding of the photographic medium and also work with the Norwegian publisher Teknisk Industri, with whom I will be sharing a table at the London Art Book Fair.
“People are publishing their own works all over the place, and those who don’t are starting their own art book fairs or festivals.”
Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson
The Oslo-scene is renowned for its artist-run initiatives and this is also the case when it comes to printed matter. There is a multiplicity on offer though, from the cheapest DIY-fanzines to the more highbrow coffee-table publications and small presses of all kinds. No sign of the publishing industry being on its knees here. However, there is a massive lack of public and critical attention related to the whole field of art book publishing. People are publishing their own works all over the place, and those who don’t are starting their own art book fairs or festivals.
ROV is a publication series containing works and texts from invited visual artists and authors. It is published by artist Sturla Heggdalsvik, who is based in Bergen.
I am based in Bergen, Norway, and my work revolves around drawing and books. Since 2009 I have made five issues of a publication series called ROV, where I have invited artists and writers to contribute. Working with this series has been a tool for me to discover and learn. It has taught me a lot about how a book works as a way of showing contemporary art, and quite a bit about the working process of other artists.
The publishing scene in Bergen (and Norway) is very active. It seems that artists, artist groupings and institutions have understood the potential and value in physical publications. There are fair chances of ensuring a bit of financing for art publications, which makes it easier to create book projects the way you want.
“I hope to get some interesting responses to my projects, and also hope to have the time to discover some gems at the other tables.”
The fair offers a great opportunity to meet a multitude of people who share an interest in art and books. I hope to get some interesting responses to my projects, and hope to have the time to discover some gems at the other tables. When not at the fair, I will definitely catch the Agnes Martin retrospective at Tate.
Multipress are a non-profit publisher based in Oslo who create artist books and publications with an emphasis on photography.
Multipress is run on a project basis and we see ourselves as a platform for artists that have an interest in using publications as an arena for doing artwork. Our starting point is always the individual practices of our contributors and we aim to take part in the bookmaking process from idea to finished product.
“We look forward to seeing books not available in ordinary bookstores.”
Line B Løkken at Multipress
The publishing scene in Norway is still small, but definitely growing. At the London Art Book Fair we look forward to seeing books not available in ordinary book stores, to meet other small-scale publishers and of course to meet the audience.
Visit the Scandinavian publishers at The London Art Book Fair 2015 from Thursday 10 September (6pm-9pm) until Sunday 13 September. The London Art Book Fair is supported by the Embassies of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.