Monday, December 08, 2014

Art Book Festivals in Berlin, Part 1

Berlin is well-known for its art scene, so it is not surprising to find that it also has a fine selection of book fairs dedicated specifically to “art books.” I had the pleasure of attending two of these fairs in late-2014, and am happy to provide summaries of them.


Report on 2014 at Kunstquartier Bethanien

On 21-23 November, held its third convention for art books, and artistic editions of books. This year, the event showcased the work of more than 100 art book publishers and graphic design artists from Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Kunstquartier Bethanien

The event took place in Kreuzberg’s historic Kunstquartier Bethanien on Mariannenplatz, the former Central-Deaconess-Institute 'Bethanien' (Central-Diakonissen-Haus Bethanien). Following the signs for, I wended my way through the vibrantly muraled hallways of the ground floor to the smaller of the two exhibition spaces, which contained a series of cozy linked rooms. The larger of the exhibit spaces was on the first floor, in a brightly-lit two-story hall.

View from the 2nd level of the larger hall

The event featured readings and discussions by authors including Pètrus Akkordéon and Rainer Stolz, as well as book-launch celebrations and signings by artists such as Anne Wenkel and Kat Menschik. On Sunday afternoon, visitors were treated to a guided tour of Kulturwerk’s printing studios by Mathias Mrowka, Assistant Director for the studio. Kulturwerk is a facility of bbk berlin, an association for professional artists in Berlin.

Many of the publishers showcased books presenting the art of individual or select artists – with the motivation of allowing a broader access by the public to works of art they may not be able to afford as originals. Also exhibiting at the event were an impressive number of publishers presenting art books featuring wonderful graphic designs to accompany fiction and poetry, for example:

Officina Ludi – This Hamburg-based publisher offered among its books the Kurt Tucholsky work “Der Hund als Untergebener,” illustrated by Klaus Ensikat. Also featured at the table was “Typoeten – Typographische Dichterporträts von Ralf Mauer,” wonderful portraits of famous poets and writers, crafted by Ralf Mauer.

Ralf Mauer's portraits of poets

edition offizin parvus berlin – This local publisher of hand-printed books featuring original graphics, offered a gorgeous selection of “folded books,” with excerpts of text from writers and poets such as Hermann Hesse, Georg Trakl, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Tatsuko. All editions are in German.

One of the "folded books" by edition offizin parvus berlin

On 13 December, I will attend Art Book Fair Berlin 2014, hosted by Friends with Books, a newly-formed non-profit organization dedicated to offering greater visibility to contemporary artists' books and art publications.

edition offizin parvus berlin –

Friends with Books –

Kunstquartier Bethanien –

Officina Ludi –

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