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