About Meridian

Dear readers!

After a long day of traveling I am now back in Bergen, Norway. Even though my time in Beijing is up for now, I want to share a couple of more posts with you. Amongst the things that I didn’t have time to write about while in Beijing, is the Meridian. I’ve mentioned Meridian many times before, since they were hosting the book fair. But I never actually explained what kind of place it is.

The amazing Momo!

The amazing Momo!

The Meridian is founded and run by Mao Yimin (everyone calls her Momo) and Dorian Cavé. I’ve not yet met Cavé, but Momo was a key person for us during our stay, and for the execution of China meets Norway in a Bookshelf as well. She strikes me as an exceptionally hard working lady - as well as a wonderful host. My first day in Beijing she gave me a tour of the Meridian and explained to me how the place is run. 

Meridian is located in an old printing factory, in an area that is now called the 77 Culture & Creative Park (for short, 77 C&C Park). The park was initiated by the Dongcheng-government 5 years ago. They decided to repurpose the group of buildings previously owned by the printing factory for cultural activity: to make it into a place for creative people, where different cultures can meet. In addition to the Meridian you can for example find a dance center and a theater there these days.

The outside café area of the Meridian

The outside café area of the Meridian

Storefront (bicycle store/event space)

Storefront (bicycle store/event space)

This was what the bicyle store looked like when we first arrived. Soon after, most of the inventory was put away, so the space could be used as a lecture and workshop room for the book fair.

This was what the bicyle store looked like when we first arrived. Soon after, most of the inventory was put away, so the space could be used as a lecture and workshop room for the book fair.

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Even though the park is government-funded, Meridian is not. So to be able to run it, Momo and Cavé has to be creative. One thing they do is renting a room to a bicycle company, who has their store and showroom at Meridian. However, the room is cleared for all Meridian events, so that Momo and Cavé have the space they need for occasions such as our book fair. A café is also run at the main floor of Meridian, also providing some income, and at the top floor they have an office as well as their gallery space. In addition to rent, Meridian get some income from publishing books. They books they publish are picture books, for both children and adults. Xiong Liang is among the artists they are working with, and the previously mentioned Tales of Darkness is published by them. 

Meridian's upstairs exhibition space, about to be filled by books and people

Meridian's upstairs exhibition space, about to be filled by books and people

In addition to hosting events and publishing books, Meridian is an exhibition space. They host about 6 exhibitions a year, working with a range of artists and galleries. 

For Meridian, China meets Norway in a Bookshelf is actually a continuation of a book event that the they arranged in 2015 and 2016, called Meridian Avant-Garde Picture Book Fair. My impression is that the Avant-Garde Picture Book Fair functioned as an interactive exhibition, where people could browse though a wide selection of picture books on site. 

To a certain extent, this could also be said about China meets Norway in a Bookshelf. Most of the Chinese books shown at our fair were not for sale. This has to do with governmental permits and regulations (which both artists making books and institutions selling books have to deal with). The Norwegian publications were however for sale, as well as a small selection of Chinese fanzines and books published by Meridian themselves. 

 
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The printing factory space that we got to borrow for the fair

The printing factory space that we got to borrow for the fair

 

China meets Norway in a Bookshelf filled all the rooms at Meridian’s disposal, plus a space that the original printing factory still have in use (we got to borrow it). 

/Cecilie

 

 

Zine Machine

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Saturday was the last day of the book fair, and it was also the day that Fredrik arranged the workshop «Zine Machine», with the help of Ben, who translated from English to Chinese. The workshop had a great turn up. People bunked up around a large table, with paper, pens, brushes and ink as their tools. Every participant got one sheet of paper each. The paper was divided in 16 squares, becoming a fanzine once folded and stapled (in the end of the workshop). Every participant were to decide on a set of drawings that would fill most of the squares. What to draw was optional, but only a certain amount of time could be spent doing it: each set of drawings had to be completed within 3 minutes. Fredrik then told the group that they were to function as a giant, human copying machine. Meaning that after 3 minutes had past, the sheets of paper had to be passed over to the neighbor participant. This way, the drawings would be sent around in a circle so that in the end, all participants had «copied» their set of drawings on all of the paper sheets. The result was colorful, wild, multi-layered hand-drawn fanzines. The whole thing was very intense, playful and fun - because of the 3 minute rule, but perhaps also thanks to Fredrik’s playlists of energetic Norwegian songs (I’m going to try to get him to put it on the blog, it was so good). 

/Cecilie

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Zine Machine in action!

Zine Machine in action!

 
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A group of small children also wanted in on the Zine Machine, so they made their own :,,-)

A group of small children also wanted in on the Zine Machine, so they made their own :,,-)

 

Beijing at night

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Project leader Yilei in front of Tiananmen Square

Project leader Yilei in front of Tiananmen Square

Last night was perhaps my favorite night. Ben and Yilei had arranged a surprise bike ride for us, so that we could do some sightseeing. The city was surprisingly quiet at night, and the warm wind brushed gently against our faces while biking. The sky had warm dark shades, with clouds in dusty pink. Such a beautiful ride. 

Gunvor's morning workshop

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Just wanted to share a picture real quick, from the workshop for children that Gunvor Rasmussen held this morning. I didn't get to be there myself, but this pic was so cute it had to be posted ;)

/Cecilie

Panel discussion

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On Friday China meets Norway in a Bookshelf arranged a panel that were to discuss questions of book culture and working conditions for artists in the respective cultures of China and Norway. On the Chinese side the panel consisted of Xiong Liang (the artist we visited on Wednesday) and Momo who runs Meridian. Book designer and illustrator Tian Dongming was the moderator. On the Norwegian side, participants were Kay-Arne Kirkebø, Åshild Kanstad Johnsen and Fredrik Rysjedal. We also had two people translating, Calvin Quceek who is an architect, designer and good friend of Momo, and Ben from Northing. 

The panel was first asked to describe tendencies in their countries within the field of picture books and comics. Then they were asked to talk about how you support yourself as an artist in Norway versus China. Both questions are in themselves very interesting. But when discussed, I think they also reveal the enormous gap between our two cultures. 

To start with the first question, it seemed to me that the Chinese were discussing visual style and the meeting of the traditional and the modern when describing tendencies. The Norwegians on the other hand, were struggling a bit to describe stylistic tendencies - and I think that is because in Norway artistic books and comics are not rooted in a long, consistent artistic tradition the way they still seem to be in China. In addition to this, I think some were confused about the term «picture books» (at least I were). Were we talking about all books where visual content is important, also including artists’ books? If so, it would make sense as a Western artist to discuss conceptual, material and social tendencies as well as visual style. The Eastern and Western concepts of art has historically been very different, and I think it is hard to discuss tendencies in art (or design, I mean, the borders between these are blurred, specially in the field of books) without directly addressing this difference. 

As for the second question, our points of departure are miles apart. In Norway we have exceptional support from the government compared to almost every other country. In China they have more or less no governmental support economically. In Norway it is quite hard to make money as an artist, even if you are an acclaimed one. In China this seems to be different: once you make it as an artist there are chances of making good money. The panel ended up discussing the benefits of these conditions. For example: When you can’t apply for grants, you have to be creative and persistent. Or: when you get funded as an artist, you have the opportunity to deepen yourself in projects that are interesting but not necessarily easy to make money off. 

I apologize for not being more specific when retelling this. But a third challenge of this discussion was that so much information got lost in translation. Having very skilled yet not professional translators, and participants with a lot to say, the translations were often brief summaries of what was actually being said. And my version is yet another layer of interpretation (where probably even more of what was actually being said gets lost). 

Despite the challenges, the debate lasted for 2,5 hours, and even after that the audience had many questions. We were no doubt very curious about the other country's culture and conditions for art and bookmaking.  

I think it is very important and beneficial that we try to have these conversations, even if it is difficult to understand each other. It's during these attempts that we can get an impression of what subjects that are challenging to discuss, and why. Then after the first round, we can continue our conversations being a bit more informed.

(I also know that the panel discussion was being transcribed in Chinese. I have a hope that I will eventually get these transcriptions translated, perhaps by Ben and Yilei, once we are back in Bergen.)

Puh! Ok. Now I am heading off to the book stands - looking at the actual books of matter before everything is being packed away. 

/Cecilie

Jingren's Paperlogue

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Yesterday we were invited to a paper making workshop at Jingren’s Paperlogue, which was also in the Dongcheng district. Jingren’s is a community for designers, with an office and a work space with all the tools you need to produce books. They also hold courses and lectures there, as well as workshops of different kinds, such as paper making and book binding. 

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Office and working area

Office and working area

In addition they have the most lovely storefront with a cafe in it. I spent some time there working after our workshop, it was like finding an oasis amongst the busy streets of Beijing. Beautiful colored paper everywhere, nice furniture, plants, air con and a good selection of hot beverages (coffee, too!). 

 
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Storefront and workshop space set up for paper making!

Storefront and workshop space set up for paper making!

 

As for the paper making workshop we were making traditional Chinese fans. The process started with mixing a small piece of paper pulp with an even smaller piece of plant pulp, by hammering the pulp for 20 minutes. Traditionally this process takes even longer - you are supposed to hammer the pulp 4800 times, which I imagine would be a really good workout session for bi- and triceps. So after your pulp is properly hammered, you dissolve it in water onto a fine masked net. Once it starts resembling really thin cotton you can distribute it evenly over the net, which is then lifted out of the water. Our home made, really thin paper was in the end glued onto a fan, one layer on each side. The process demanded a lot of concentration and accuracy, but personally I enjoyed it a lot.

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Me enjoying my fan...

Me enjoying my fan...

Ben is showing us a pricewinning book

Ben is showing us a pricewinning book

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For me it was a bit hard to find the address of this place online since I don't read Chinese (the address you find is often to another department I think). So here it is for those of you who want to visit: Fuxiang Hutong 13. In the Dongcheng district that is. 

 
Åshild and her fan that was put to use directly after the workshop

Åshild and her fan that was put to use directly after the workshop

 

Today is the FINAL DAY of the book fair. Time has been flying. If in Beijing, do not miss it! We are open until 6pm. I’ll be checking in later, to post some pictures from the fanzine workshop Fredrik is hosting at 2pm today. 

/Cecilie

Seminar day

Ben from Northing opening the seminar on Thursday

Ben from Northing opening the seminar on Thursday

On Thursday, the first day of the book fair, we started off with a seminar where the Norwegian artists and publishers presented themselves, as well as a selection of the Chinese artists. As the Chinese artists were talking in Chinese, I unfortunately cannot tell you much about their presentations. Anyway I will try to present some of them through their book works later on. 

The Norwegians that presented themselves were Svein Størksen, Kay-Arne Kirkebø, Gunvor Rasmussen, Åshild Kanstad Johnsen, Imi MaufeJessica Williams and Fredrik Rysjedal. Ben Wenhou from Northing was hosting the Norwegian part of the seminar, and he also presented some of Northing's work. It was interesting to hear how they all presented themselves - even though I know many of them quite well from before, I discovered some new background stories and projects. I will try to sum up (in short) what they themselves highlighted in their talks. 

Northing is run by Ben Wenhou and Yilei Wang. Ben is an architect and Yilei is a visual designer. They are Chinese but live and work in Norway. Together they promote Norwegian culture in China, focusing on publications, design and cultural events. The fair China meets Norway in a Bookshelf is an example of this work. As mentioned before they are the initiators of this project, and one of three organizations managing it. Together with Bergen Zines they brought the selection of Norwegian artists to Beijing, and they have been arranging meetings between them and Chinese artists and culture (like the studio visit on Wednesday). They also hope to do their work the other way around in the future - to promote Chinese culture in Norway.

Svein Størksen is an illustrator and a publisher. In his presentation he underlined how coincidences has shaped his career - the fact that he is a publisher today, was not a part of a grand plan. Looking back, he can see that his starting point has been a constant interest in drawing. Being a good drawer became an important part of his identity from early on. He created his one-man publishing house Magikon, because he felt there was not enough publishers that actually prioritized the visual parts of a book. There he works with different illustrators and writers - he even sometimes do the illustration work himself.

Gunvor Rasmussen is another illustrator, that runs her own shop in addition to making her own books and illustrating for others. Above her shop at the idyllic Bryggen in Bergen she has her small studio. Currently she works with a project that is not a book work: Unicorns against stupidity.  In the area where Gunvor lives, there is a white supremacy group claiming different areas as their own by tagging statements in public spaces. Unicorns agains stupidity is a demonstration against that. Gunvor pastes posters of unicorns over all of their public statements, as an attempt to prevent them from recruiting more people, and to make their statements less visible. 

Åshild Kanstad Johnsen is an illustrator making books for children - and sometimes for adults. She works a lot with textures and nature, specially forests. She is also fascinated by the way people collect and organize the things around them. She often draws as a way to get to know shapes, and understand different universes - how things work. What she is mostly known for is her books about the wooden character Kubbe. She is a writer herself, but she also illustrates for others.

Imi Maufe is originally British but has lived in Bergen, Norway for a long time. She works as an artist. Many of the books that she makes are a result of journeys she has made, both long and shorter ones. Once she spent 5 weeks on a sailboat. There her studio space consisted of her bed onboard the boat. During the trip she amongst other things threw 43 wooden postcards into the sea. 8 of them were found and sent back to her. Books, prints and a film were made in the time after the trip. She is involved in bookwork in different ways: In addition to making books herself, she also holds workshops and runs projects that involves several artists working with the book format.

Jessica Williams is an American artist that moved to Norway in 2011. As Imi, she presents her work in a fine arts setting. Jessica started to work with books at teenager, and having a popular website she came to have her first exhibition in a gallery already as a 15 year old. For many years Jessica ran NSEW, publishing independent books and zines for other artists. Today she focuses on her own work. She photographs, particularly focusing on objects. Text has also been important in her work, perhaps especially now since she has been learning a new language (Norwegian). For Jessica it is also important that her art is friendly towards the environment. She prints with a risograph, using soy ink that is more friendly to the enviroment than regular ink. She has also been exhibiting by showing images on phones, to avoid chemical printing damaging to nature.

Fredrik Rysjedal is educated as a graphic designer and illustrator, but is working in-between illustration and fine arts. He is drawing a lot, using marker pen to draw simple and a bit rough line drawings. He has also been working a lot with developing digital comics. Right now he is working on a project about the story of Gilgamesh, which is said to be the oldest story in the world. It is a story about a man that refuses to die. The gods decided to make him a terrifying and strong friend, because he was fighting and killing so much. His friend dies, and Gilgamesh gets really afraid to die himself. Therefor he travels to the underworld to try to reclaim his friend. But he does not succeed - he almost gets the key to eternal life, but looses it. Gilgamesh's solution is to write down his story, so that he can live forever that way. Storytelling has always been very important to Fredrik, and therefore he has been working a lot with comics. 

As you perhaps already know, you can read more about some of these artists on the Bergen Zines website. If you are even more curious about their work, you can see it today (Saturday) at the fair at Meridian. Or if you are not in Beijing you will find publications from many of them at this years Bergen Art Book Fair in October! 

/Cecilie

 

Opening party!

Wednesday evening was the opening party of China meets Norway in a Bookshelf! Ben and Yilei from Northing and Yimin Mao (Momo) from Meridian Space presented the project. After that Fredrik showed some of his digital comic work that he developed during his artistic research PhD: Close, closer, closest and Sound of the Aurora. After that we all enjoyed refreshments and snacks, and most importantly got a look at all the printed matter being exhibited and sold at the fair! Perhaps a couple of pictures can give you a feel of it.  

/Cecilie

 
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Åshild made the poster image for the project (y)

Åshild made the poster image for the project (y)

Ben and Yilei introducing Northing and the book fair

Ben and Yilei introducing Northing and the book fair

Fredrik introducing Bergen Zines

Fredrik introducing Bergen Zines

Screening The Sound of the Aurora - a VR comic, originally performed with live music.

Screening The Sound of the Aurora - a VR comic, originally performed with live music.

 
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Socializing and drinks!

Socializing and drinks!

 
Books by Norwegian artists and publishers are being displayed on one table...

Books by Norwegian artists and publishers are being displayed on one table...

...books by Chinese artists on the other.

...books by Chinese artists on the other.

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One of Gunvor's latest books, Monsterboka!

One of Gunvor's latest books, Monsterboka!

In Xiong Liang's studio: picture books and woodcut printing

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Yesterday we traveled out of the Dongcheng district, visiting the beautiful studio of Xiong Liang, who welcomed us at the Beijing Arts and Crafts Publishing House. Xiong is a well known artist in China. He has been making book works since he was quite young, both writing and illustrating. Today he has an amazing production of what you might call artistic picture books - both for children and for adults.

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Xiong showing us traditional Chinese artwork and explaining how his own work is in some ways related to it.

Xiong showing us traditional Chinese artwork and explaining how his own work is in some ways related to it.

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Studio details

Studio details

Amongst other things he has made the fantastic book Tales of Darkness (New Star Press, 2015), which so far is my personal favorite (in close competition to the children's book about a cat with a moon-shaped face that ends up finding it's place in the theater world by playing the role as an actual moon). Tales of Darkness is a collection of ghost stories adapted from buddhist folklore. I could not read them as they are in Chinese, not yet translated to English, but the painted images in themselves are very expressive. Some of them show terrifying creatures that sometimes reminds me of the style of Francis Bacon, others chaotic scenes such as cities in ruins. 

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Pages from Tales of Darkness

Xiong has many students. I've learned that this is often the case for acclaimed Chinese artists. One of his students is an artist called Mi He. She generously held a workshop for us in woodcut printing. So much fun! Even I got to polish my rusty skills there, making a portrait of Fredrik.

Tools for woodcutting and figurines by the artists working in the studio

Tools for woodcutting and figurines by the artists working in the studio

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While we were carving the deliciously soft wooden bords, Mi He showed us work made at other workshops. You can carve with different techniques, and also print in different colors. I think we would have stayed for hours if we could, experimenting.

While we were carving the deliciously soft wooden bords, Mi He showed us work made at other workshops. You can carve with different techniques, and also print in different colors. I think we would have stayed for hours if we could, experimenting.

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A bit hard but super fun! This is my take on Fredrik ;)

A bit hard but super fun! This is my take on Fredrik ;)

 

In the evening we headed back to Meridian for the official opening party of China meets Norway in a Bookshelf. I'll share some pics from that, too, in a separate post!

/Cecilie

Tonight: Opening Party!

Tonight is the opening party of China meets Norway in a Bookshelf! If you are in Beijing you are most welcome to join us. Read more about it at this Timeout Beijing article or here in Chinese. 

We have a great program of presentations and performances, it will be a lot of fun! Everything starts at 6pm, at Meridian.

/Cecilie

A quick Hi from Beijing

Finally we're in Beijing, after almost 18 hours in the air and on airports! The rain is pouring down, it's hot and humid, but it's wonderful to be here. 

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The Automated People Mover! Perhaps not as sci-fi as we first thought, but it (and other people movers like it) got us safely into the city. 

The Automated People Mover! Perhaps not as sci-fi as we first thought, but it (and other people movers like it) got us safely into the city. 

We're now getting set up in the Meridian Space. This place is situated in an old printing factory in the Dongcheng district, as a part of a cluster of active cultural organizations. I will tell you more about it tomorrow! Now much needed sleep awaits, before a studio visit and a workshop tomorrow morning. I'll bring my pocket-wifi and share some pictures of that as well.

/Cecilie

 
China meets Norway in a bookshelf, at Meridian Space!

China meets Norway in a bookshelf, at Meridian Space!

 

We're going to Beijing!

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Dear readers!

So far Anki has been writing to you about Northing and Bergen Zines’ adventures in Shanghai, and you have also been introduced to a number of wonderful Norwegian artists working with books (more of those presentations coming up, by the way). Now I am taking over the blog. My name is Cecilie A. Størkson, and I’m a Norwegian art historian, art gallery manager and art writer, with a particular devotion to artistic printed matter and art book fairs. Together with some of the Norwegian artists you’ve already read about, as well as Ben and Yilei from Northing and Fredrik and Raquel from Bergen Zines, I will now travel to Beijing. Today, in fact! This whole day will be spent at airports and on planes, in other words this is the perfect opportunity for me to introduce myself to you, and to tell you a bit about what I will be sharing with you on this blog the coming week.

First a bit about my background. My interest in self publishing and do-it-yourself culture was evoked through Bergen Zines. As you perhaps already know, Bergen Zines is a Norwegian organization that in addition to running Bergen Art Book Fair hosts what they call “fanzine evenings”. These fanzine evenings are open to everyone, and anyone can bring their own fanzines to sell there. Typically they are held at bars or cafés. At such an event you’ll find people drawing, talking, laughing, reading fanzines and drinking beer. It is a very open environment, where creatives from all kinds of different fields meet - writers, artists, designers, illustrators, photographers, as well as people who doesn’t have creative professions, but who make their own zines anyway. Fanzine evenings are playful and low-key, totally devoid of the stiffness that sometimes dominate events in the professional art world. It is an exciting yet safe place to try out new things, get new ideas and inspiration, and just have fun. Needless to say it’s a place that makes you want to stay and join in, and that is what I did.

 
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Fanzine evening in Bergen, at the neighborhood café and bar Nobel Bopel 

Fanzine evening in Bergen, at the neighborhood café and bar Nobel Bopel 

 

For two years or so I offered my assistance to Bergen Zines, and I also took part in establishing Bergen Art Book Fair. During those two years I gained both valuable experience and strong friendships. I guess that’s why I (even today) rarely miss out on a chance to do some work together with Anki, Fredrik and the rest of the Bergen Zines crew. We have travelled together to art book fairs in both New York and Tokyo, trips that have deepened my understanding of the art book/DIY/self publishing culture - a culture which has been growing extensively the last decade. The work I’ve done together with Bergen Zines has inspired many of my texts about different tendencies within this culture.

From the last Bergen Art Book Fair, at Bergen Kunsthall

From the last Bergen Art Book Fair, at Bergen Kunsthall

At art book fairs I often experience the same kind of atmosphere that characterize the fanzine evenings held in Bergen. Most of them come across as friendly, relaxed and accessible arenas. What an excellent starting point for connecting to new people and discovering new works of art, right? That also seems to be what the collaborators Northing, Bergen Zines and Meridian Art Space think. In Beijing these three organizations are arranging an art book fair that focuses specifically on the meeting between Norwegian and Chinese art book culture. And this fair, my reader friends, is what I will be writing to you about the coming week. The fair China meets Norway in a bookshelf opens at the 23rd of August and lasts until the 26th. My mission is to blog about not only what happens at the fair, but also what takes place before and after it opens, and what happens in it’s surroundings. I will try to communicate the vibe from the fair for you who cannot be there in person, and even attempt to give you an insight in the process of making an art book fair. I will write about meetings with artists, and about events at the fair - workshops, discussions and seminars. And of course I’ll show you some of the fantastic books that are being sold at the fair! Looking forward to share this adventurous week with all of you!

/Cecilie

SHANGHAI PICTURE POST

When in Shanghai, our internet connection was not the best to say the least, so all our pictures had to wait to be shared till we got back home on Norwegian ground and with a steady wifi. 

Our stay in Shanghai began at the risoprinter and publisher Bananafish / Pausebread, where our Norwegian participants met with Chinese counterparts Cindy Sun, Chaoyu Li, Liu Jinzi and Xiao Longhua to make a publication together in a 1-day workshop. 

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With teams of two we collaborated on each page of the book, that explored the theme "habitat". 

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Each page were then printed on the 2-color risograph in 200 editions. At midnite we were finally finished, and could start the assembly line:

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The publication will be available in Norway at this years Bergen Art Book Fair in October!

 The next day we returned to Bananafish to launch the publication, as part of their presentation series Binding Talk. Below some pictures from Bananafish's instagram:

The next days were spent at Minsheng Museum, where we had a special spot at this years Art Book China!

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Åshild did a little drawing performance with black ink on A3 sheets of paper taped to the wall. The drawings were later signed and sold.

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The fair was not very big, compared to others in New York and Tokyo, but it was pretty crowded every day, and artist's books and zines seems to be on the rise in China – where self-published books isn't technically legal.

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The museum had a wonderful roof top terrace were you could look closely at the decorative construction of the buildning, and with a very nice view over the Expo area in Pudong (where the World Expo 2010 was held)

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Jessica and Christian appeared on the local tv news in Shanghai! They were also interviewed by a japanese tv network, but we have yet to find this online. Video below!

To finish this post (on an unrelated note regarding art books) we need to share one of our food adventures! This strange bacon "cake" with ice and flowers got the attention of all our cameras when visiting a hot pot resturant:

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Thank you to Bananafish, Art Book China, thank you to all the artists collaborating with us at the workshop at Bananafish, thank you to all the other wonderful people that we met, thank you to Art World for having us on a studio visit, and thank you Shanghai for the great food!

/Anki

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3Q&A with Åshild Kanstad Johnsen

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1. Which of the qualities of the book (as a form and a concept) do you appreciate the most?

It’s very concrete; orientation is from the beginning to the end, so you don’t get lost. On the web there’s too many possibilities. With a book, you print and it’s finished. You can not change later on. It’s done. I like it. I like sketchbooks; I find them more interesting than finished products. Everything unfinished is good. Thats why I’m a messy illustrator.

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2. Tell us about your most recent publication/book work/fanzine!

I’m in the process of making my second Ulla and Bendik-book. Working title: Everything is wrong. It’s a picture book. At the idea stage; the most fun stage.

3. What are your experiences when it comes to book fairs?

Too hectic, too many people, too many things going on. But also exciting. I get creative (afterwards).

3Q&A with Christian Tunge

1. Which of the qualities of the book (as a form and a concept) do you appreciate the most?

For me as an artist that don’t have a set style or theme I’m always working with, I like the book’s ability to introduce and finish a project at the very same time. Working with book’s I get the opportunity the dive into a concept or topic, make the book, and then start on something completely different.  

The Games, 2016

The Games, 2016

2. Tell us about your most recent publication/book work/fanzine!

I’m actually launching a new publication/book work/fanzine at the aBC in Shanghai this week. It’s called “Apophenia”, which is the tendency to attribute meaning to perceived connections or patterns between seemingly unrelated things. The publications is a spin off on another project I’m working on. The pictures didn’t really fit and I thought it would be interesting to see if I could make it into a book of it’s own. In the book, two series of images are presented in a sequence. One is of what can seem like random people, with a large variety in social background, ethnicity and gender, who move over a white tiled square. You can’t tell where they are going or where they are coming from. The other series is still life photos of a single sheet from an edition of The Los Angeles Times. In the different images the paper is formed into sculptural objects highlighting a recent news story.

Apophenia, 2017

Apophenia, 2017

Apophenia, 2017

Apophenia, 2017

Apophenia, 2017

Apophenia, 2017

3. That are your experiences when it comes to book fairs?

From the very get go book fairs have been a big part of what Heavy Books is. The first five publications was launched at the One Thousand Art Book Fair in Copenhagen. I usually attend two or three book fairs every year and use them as a deadline to create now books and editions. Heavy Books is all about spreading the work of young artist, and book fairs are a great place to meet other artists, publishers, curators and gallerist to present the work and create new collaborations.  

New York Art Book Fair 2014

New York Art Book Fair 2014

3Q&A with Jessica Willams

1. Which of the qualities of the book (as a form and a concept) do you appreciate the most?

The inherent intimacy of books is perhaps my favorite thing about them as a format. The one on one experience is something special.

2. Tell us about your most recent publication/book work/fanzine!

While in Philadelphia for a two person exhibition this past May, I produced a quick artist’s book on the gallery’s Risograph machine. The publication is called “Not ready for this world” and is a mash-up of poems I wrote in 2012 and photographs from the island of Svalbard taken last year. It is a two-color and two-paper little book, with the available materials and tools dictating the form and expression of content. This particular Risograph wasn’t hooked up to a computer, so everything was scanned using the built-in flatbed scanner.

Not ready for this world, 2017

Not ready for this world, 2017

3. What are your experiences when it comes to book fairs?

In 2005, while an art student in New York City, I interned at Printed Matter: making coffee, running errands, sorting books and the like. By that time, I had already been making my own zines for a few years. Every Friday I loved spending hours in that little on 22nd Street, which has since moved to a much bigger space on 11th Avenue. In the fall of 2006, I received a call from my old boss there asking if I could work at this new thing they were putting together: the first ever NY Art Book Fair. Before this fair, which acted as a bridge between the high and low, young and old, the majority of the others that displayed artist’s books were either internal for the industry or specialized in blue-chip printmaking editions.

Slow Education, 2013

Slow Education, 2013

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2013

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2013

In 2011, I started my first artist’s publishing venture called North, South, East, West (NSEW). In the four years that I worked under that name, I traveled to fairs in places like Oslo, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Antwerp, Tokyo and Milan. Each fair was different and I felt like I learned something new each time, both when it came to artist’s books and the respective host countries. In 2014, the last year of the press, I finally returned to the NY Art Book Fair as an exhibitor. Full circle. Last year I began publishing again, but under a new name: Hverdag Books. This new press is primarily a personal project and thus far I have only published my own works through it. With Hverdag I have traveled to Bergen and soon Shanghai.

Bergen Art Book Fair 2016

Bergen Art Book Fair 2016

Hello from Shanghai!

Ni hao ma!

Welcome to our first post within the China meets Norway in a Bookshelf-project! This project is about sharing and discussing Chinese and Norwegian culture within the art book field and children's books in both countries.

The project is a collaboration between Northing (who works with translation of children's books), and Bergen Zines (who work with event focusing on zines and artist’s books), who both have their base in Bergen. Our Chinese collaborators are Bananafish Pausebread (risostudio in Shangahi), the Art Book China fair in Shanghai and the art space Meridian in Beijing.

We will in this blog share our experiences and meetings throughout the project in both Shanghai and Beijing!

We are now in Shanghai, and Anki from Bergen Zines will keep you posted throughout this following week, where we will make a book, have lecture and book launches, and attend the Art Book China. 

In Beijing art historian Cecilie Størkson will take the blog wheel, and explore the event at Meridian Space through her experience. Anki and Cecilie have worked together before in Bergen Zines, with the first edition of Bergen Art Book Fair. Together they have also travelled to New York Art Book Fair (2014) and Tokyo Art Book Fair (2016), where Cecilie has been an independent part with her own publishing projects. This time she has been invited by Bergen Zines to give you a view of the project in Beijing, which is the making of an Norwegian art book fair outside of Norway!

China meets Norway in a bookshelf

Section from Mads Andersens zine Discovery, which will be part of the books shown in Shanghai and Beijing.

Section from Mads Andersens zine Discovery, which will be part of the books shown in Shanghai and Beijing.

China meets Norway in a bookshelf is a cultural exchange project with the purpose of promoting Norwegian art books, picture books and illustrated books in China through exhibitions, book markets, seminars, workshops and other unofficial activities. The project focuses on young artists and illustrators from or based in Norway and their works that reflecting nowadays Norwegian subcultures. 

We have selected and invited artists to visit China, to meet local artists with similar interests to inspire each other and be inspired. 

This blog will follow the events in Shanghai (art book in China) and Beijing (China meets Norway in a bookshelf) during August 2017.

Organised by Northing, and Bergen Zines. Kindly supported by Bergen Municipality, Grafill, NORLA, OCA and Norwegian Embassy in China.