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Alternative Art Publications
December 27, 2006 - January 9, 2007

Feature [ Alternative Art Publications ]
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As an alternative to the established art magazines and the limitations of the commercial gallery world, homegrown art publications are springing up to stimulate critical discourse and showcase the full spectrum of emerging art. Here, we highlight the best new art rags, from the street-art-based ANP Quarterly to the intellectual Dot dot dot, and we profile the young North Drive Press, which creates portable exhibitions. Honoring a lodestar of inventive art publishing, we interview Sina Najafi of Cabinet about the magazine's thought-provoking articles and related exhibitions. Jumping from the printed page to the screen, we review the new media journal Aspect, which releases curated DVDs of video and multimedia work, and survey the best current gallery and museum shows, including a Wolfgang Tillmans retrospective and multipurpose furniture from Droog.

Even as forecasts of the web annihilating ink-and-paper publishing persist, printed magazines continue to flourish across the distribution scale. Through their timely nature, magazines function as community billboards, topical investigations, group exhibitions, and mini-time capsules — text-and-image manifestations of the zeitgeist. Andy Warhol's Interview spirit lives on in sassy publications like BUTT and USELESS. Seeking alternative avenues, artists reclaim critical discussion in The Daily Constitutional, and, breaking out of the gallery context, Zingmagazine curates visual cross-fertilizations on its eclectic pages. Hybrids of art, photography, and design defy easy categorization in the cordial Capricious and the brainy Dot dot dot, while under the quirky vision of editor Tod Lippy, Esopus casts a wider net to include creative professionals alongside artists and writers, striving towards an unadulterated flow of information.

The zine aesthetic that evolved out of art hothouses like Providence and San Francisco gets the polished treatment in publications such as The Journal, The Ganzfeld, and Loyal Magazine. Eye-popping works are faithfully reproduced, letting readers take home lush images from artists such as Misaki Kawai and Mark Gonzales. Street art gains a cultural context in the deluxe freebie ANP Quarterly, the brainchild of Alleged Gallery founder Aaron Rose. An evolved skateboard-culture zine, Arkitip presents a selection of works for the page by a variety of designers, illustrators, and photographers, lavishly packaged with limited editions.

Since surrealism, artists have employed the periodical as a venue for visual manifestos. The legacy continues with artist-edited journals that communicate their editors' personal visions, transforming each issue into a collaborative project. Painter Peter LaBier handpicks up-and-coming artists like Joshua Abelow to submit portfolios for the poetry-infused Red China Magazine. Edited by Charwei Tsai, Lovely Daze presents loosely themed collections of artists' writings and works in a lovingly produced format. Tsai expands the Lovely Daze community with packed launch events featuring artist performances.

While the Internet provides a malleable outlet for web-savvy artists and writers, online resources like Lulu aid the printing and distribution of pulp-based publications. Spinning a hybrid web, LAB MAG allows visitors to download the PDF version of contributions from artists such as Liam Gillick and Thomas Hirschhorn, as well as the possibility of purchasing the entire issue from Lulu. Bridging the accessibility of the Internet and the physical appeal of the printed page, LAB lets techie and Luddite magazine lovers have their cake and eat it too. -Catherine Krudy

 

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