Tuesday November 24, 2015

30 / 130: Thirty Years of Books and Catalogs, etc. Bob Nickas at White Columns

This exhibition presents 130 publications that comprise the bibliography of critic and curator Bob Nickas, an essential figure in the New York art world of the past thirty years. He marks his 30th anniversary by emphasizing the importance of books, catalogs and publishing, of writing and documentation in an increasingly market-driven period. In commissioning a number of artist-designed posters for the show, he also reaffirms his love for printed matter, and for how ephemera allows ephemeral situations—exhibitions and events—to live on. For 30 / 130, posters by Anne Collier, Trisha Donnelly, Ryan Foerster, Wayne Gonzales, Louise Lawler, Amy O'Neill, Nikholis Planck and Dan Walsh will be exhibited in both unique and multiple copies, some made available as take-away or modestly priced prints.
For Nickas, books and catalogs also represent a democratic aspect to art. In addition to inscribing history within the lived texture of the present, they are relatively affordable, an alternate means of collecting art that deals with its meaning and its contextualization rather than its object status. Books and catalogs can circulate much more freely than works of art, allowing for the ideas within to be shared and distributed to a far greater extent. But Nickas is also himself a collector, and the show will incorporate art acquired over thirty years, whether as gifts, in trade or purchase. There will also be a number of works made especially for the occasion, including an installation by Lisa Beck, a wall painting by Gardar Eide Einarsson, and a mannequin sculpture by John Miller.
The publications in this show represent books written by Nickas, catalogs from the numerous exhibitions he's organized since 1984, catalogs and artist monographs to which he has made significant contributions, and self-published 'zines created in limited edition. Long involved with music, he will be showing albums released on his label, From The Nursery, including a new record produced to accompany a series by artist Kelley Walker, with cover artwork by Walker. The exhibition will include a 1989 edition of prints made collaboratively with Olivier Mosset, originally shown at Pat Hearn Gallery, and not seen in more than twenty-five years. Covers and page spreads from Index magazine, published by artist Peter Halley, and edited by Nickas between 1996 and 2000, will also be on view.
30 / 130 is accompanied by an Annotated Bibliography in which Nickas has written an entry for each of its 130 publications. Book-by-book, year-by-year, he relates his engagement with art over thirty years' time, acknowledging the project's biographical dimension as well as commenting on the moment in which we find ourselves today. As he remarks in the final entry for 30 / 130:
"A complete bibliography has the potential to tell not only the story of its author but of all the characters who come and go and inevitably reappear, the editors and designers behind-the-scenes, and the times in which the texts were written, how they serve to reflect the past on the present, and also of the publishing houses that issued them. Looking back on my bio / bibliography, certain artists appear over and again (in theater this is referred to as a company, and in the art world a rarity, since tastes change and allegiances with them), while the names of various publishing partners recur as well: Les Presses du Réel, JRP/Ringier, Phaidon, Karma Books, and White Columns."

Image: Slow Latch, 2015
Found Steel welded to Steel Panel, Paste Wax.

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