Artists and designers from ALSO Collective, Book Bakery/Publication Studio Toronto, OCAD U Student Press, and Bushwick Happy Hour are joining forces to create a publishing camp at Figment NYC next weekend. The installation will happen on Saturday, June 8 from 9AM to 6PM on Governors Island. Once on the island, look for the project “Carl Wagan Bookmobile” at the waterfront section. Look for a large mountain tent with group of boy/girl scouts!
THE CARL WAGAN BOOKMOBILE is a traveling campervan of cosmic proportions. It is a gallery, print shop, studio, library, reading room, classroom, and community project. CARL WAGAN promotes active engagement with book-based cultural activity such as self-publishing, zine-making, screen-printing, and bookbinding. Subtitled “The Spaceship of the Imagination,” CARL is partly a loving homage to the innovation of astronomer Carl Sagan whose passion for dreaming continues to inspire generations of thinkers.
The events are structured around two guiding ideas:
1. Consider how the form of the publication is uniquely situated to engage with the public as both civic and cultural engagement.
2. Create a temporary social space for active engagement through the production of publications, emphasizing the creation of a temporary community space for the public to engage in knowledge exchange and production.
Members from ALSO Collective are preparing a series of workshops to teach individuals how to hand bind one of two types of books (perfect bound, or saddle stitched). Participants will be given prepared materials, formal direction from a binder, and takeaway instructions. The process will introduce them to the vocabulary around the form of the book, while demonstrating the ease with which a personal publication can be constructed.
Design and Printmaking Workshops
Members from the Book Bakery, ALSO Collective, and OCAD U Student Press will introduce to the fundamentals of design, materials, tools, and approaches to generating form and content. There will be two possible outcomes to choose from. The first will be the design of a single broadsheet, which will be incorporated into the traveling exhibition. Broadsheets will be designed and collected and displayed in various locations in Canada and USA. The broadsheets will eventually be amalgamated into a large publication documenting The Carl Wagan Project. The second option for participants will be to design the content for the book that they will be binding during the bookbinding workshop explained previously. This will give participants the opportunity to learn the tools and approaches for content creation and later, the packaging and dissemination of their work.
The OCAD U Student Press will curate and organize a library of zines, small publications, and other art and design objects. Participants will be able to browse the library of books and other artifacts. The library component will operate as a trading post where participants can trade artifacts for artifacts (take a book leave a book). In addition, the OCAD U Student Press will bring a limited number of previous student publications to be distributed to participants for free.
Toronto-based singer and songwriter, Graham Nicholas, will be leading a spontaneous Music Jam on Saturday, June 8 at 3:00PM. A call for musicians and music enthusiasts has been advertised on several online music channels in New York City and Brooklyn, and we are hoping to turn the installation into a summer camp-inspired music jam. Bring Your Own Instrument and be part of this celebration!
Throughout the day, the installation will offer informal discussions and presentations about self-publishing, zine-making and activism, the book as art, printing technologies, design and art theory, and history. The discussions will be short, fun, and accessible.
Bushwick Happy Hour
Our friends from the Brooklyn-based design collective “Bushwick Happy Hour” are preparing a surprise activity as part of our installation.
Well, IT’S ON. We’ve launched an ambitious Indie Gogo Campaign to take CARL from Toronto to Newfoundland this summer!
Help us power the dream machine!
We found out today that Carl fits— exactly— one risograph, one dolly, 5 ink drums, and one Polish swearer.
The students are currently working on a book about our experiences in North Adams! Below (and above) is my contribution. It’ll give you a sneak peek of the sincerity and amazement included in their work. The book, called BEAVER FEVER, launches Thursday 29 November at 10 pm at (where else?) The Beaver.
Here’s my essay:
A Brief Reflection on 100 % True Love, Followed by a Short Piece about Paper Cuts, Magic and Going Places. By Shannon Gerard.
I’m so grateful—overwhelming grateful—that the Carl Wagan Bookmobile has brought me closer to so many wonderful folks. I’ve tried to draw their faces for you, because drawing people’s faces is an act of utter love for me. And I want the students who came with us to North Adams to see how much love can result from the effort it takes to move art forward.
Thank you, ALSO Collective. Thank you, Vanessa and Caroline. Thank you, Graham. Thank you Lukey P. Thank you, Grover. Thank you, Melanie. And thank you, thank you, Nano Publishing class of 2012.
(then some drawings)
(then this essay)
I love to read books. I love to make books. I love to play. Books and Play are two of my most passionate interests. Book objects are playful objects. They make great noises when we open them. They imply performative leaps between their pages. Their pages can cut us. We remember, long after reading books, the relative balance of those pages in our right hands and our left hands. At the ends of dear books, we hold them against us.
Books are a journey and the Carl Wagan is a ramblin’ man.
Carl was born from the central research questions that motivate most of my work: How does the social position of art affect the way in which we value it? In other words, does where we tend to encounter art mediate what it means to us? Can art in fact become a social experience that changes the way we operate in the world?
We have some long-held notions about where to find art most readily—galleries, art school, monographs, catalogues, concert halls, design studios. Most of the students I work with arrive at art school with a set of reasonable expectations about the system—I’m going to give them an assignment. They’re going to try to communicate an idea. I’m going to grade it. Repeat. Through this process, they are going to grow.
But that is not really a human interaction. Surely institutions should offer us more than a set of satisfied expectations. They should give us other people. They should give us permission to try something we would not have otherwise tried. And it should be safe to fail a lot within that context.
People do not want to fail. But I know we want to try. And I know we want to find each other.
Do you know the work of Olafur Eliasson?
He dyed the rivers of Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Toyko green. He suspended a giant sun in the midst of the Tate Modern and made it shine down on visitors like magic. He emphasized that the world is a place we inhabit and influence, not an image we consider on a postcard. So why should art be something we merely look at on the walls?
His excellent 2009 TED Talk poetically illustrates his idea that cities should not just be pictures to us. We should go places. My favourite part of what he says in that talk is this: “Art can actually evaluate the relationship between “What does it mean to be in a picture?” and “What does it mean to be in a space?” and “What is the difference?” The difference is between thinking and doing.”
For many years I worked at the U of T Bookstore and a friend of mine there kept a package of band-aids in her desk for the frequent treatment of paper-cuts, which she called an “occupational hazard.” I just love that.
You gotta get out there. You gotta try. And you gotta get your fingers sliced up a little bit.
All in all the Justin Beaver Schoolhouse experience exceeded all expectation! About 100-125 people came through while a bluegrass band played just outside in the MASS MoCA Cafeteria and Sol Lewitt wall paintings occupied the adjacent space. Not too shabby!
Many, many thanks to Rachel at the museum for making the whole experience possible. It was a tremendous honour (with a U) to be able to react to OH CANADA and to engage with contemporary art in a much richer way than just looking at it on the walls of the gallery.
And HUGE thanks to ALSO Collective for taking all the photos!!
OCADU students also had the tremendous pleasure of visiting Grover at the world’s most magical bookshop— GJ Askins in the Eclipse Mill. Meeting Grover was one of the great joys of my first summer visit to North Adams and I was delighted to help fan the flame for used books with my class.
You know why used books smell so good? It’s the pixie dust!
Melanie Mowinski runs the most inspiring public art project called PRESS— a gallery, letterpress studio, and community space down the street from MASS MoCA. The Justin Beaver Schoolhouse held a launch party there on Friday night. Carl was set up outside as a photo-booth in which visitors could have their picture taken wearing Canadiana props. Inside at the Canadian Tuxedo party, double-denim bad-assery raged on.