Author(s): Xu Bing
The artist's book as activist tactic: a toolkitFreedom of the Presses is at once a textbook and a toolbox for using artists' books and creative publications to further community engagement and social justice projects. Far from being a staid survey of an art historical practice, Freedom of the Presses intervenes in an ongoing discussion about art and activism in the present day by considering the place of the art book in the 21st century. The publisher, Booklyn, has been involved in this conversation since 1999, when a group of six artists decided to band together to promote contemporary artists' books and publications. Booklyn's focus has always been voracious, encompassing street art, punk and activist culture alongside more conventional artists' books. This restless energy is present in Freedom of the Presses, which brings together a provocative mix of humorous, intimate and scholarly writing in order to expand how we think about the concept, content, design, production and distribution of artists' and activists' publications today. Aimed at a global community of librarians, publishers and readers, it offers models of how to reimagine contemporary artists' bookmaking as a socially engaged, political practice. With essays by Kurt Allerslev, Tia Blassingame, Sarah Kirk Hanley, FLY-O, Karen Eliot, Richard J. Lee, Florencia San Mart n, Ganzeer, Suzy Taraba, Stephen Dupont, Bridget Elmer, Janelle Rebel, Marshall Weber, Anton Wurth, Xu Bing, Deborah Ultan and Aaron Sinift, Freedom of the Presses enacts the dialogue it calls for, inviting artists and activists to weigh in on the place of artists' books in the most pressing social, political and cultural issues of our time.