Offprint & The Photobook with Yannick Bouillis
22 June 2012 Interviews
Offprint is Amsterdam's newest book fair for international publishers, artists and designers who will showcase the best of contemporary art publications. Focusing on independent publishing communities, Offprint is a meeting place for artists, photographers, graphic designers, curators, artistic directors, journalists and collectors alike. We spoke to the founder of Offprint, former journalist, bookseller and publisher, Yannick Bouillis. Here's what he had to say about Offprint and photography books...
You founded Offprint Paris two years ago, as a
"project space for contemporary visual culture and a book fair for
independent publishers." Can you tell us more about the conception of
I started Offprint a few years ago as a contemporary photobook fair for independent publishers. The second edition of Offprint, which took place the next year, included a broader selection of publications (i.e. artist books, photography books, graphic design publications, etc.) Now, I am interested in the current publishing field in regard to the Internet. The Internet has fundamentally modified the role of traditional publishing in providing a space for of emerging artists and photographers. The book, at its core, was the 'frame' in which to present work. But, it no longer is the only frame in which to do this. And that is what makes Offprint so difficult, and yet, so exciting.
Can you tell us more about this? What do you mean by frames?
The traditional frames (i.e. books, magazines, art school publications, etc.) were the place to spot emerging talent. Under the pressure of the Internet and digitalization of content, these publications are in a dissolution phase which makes the search for traditional publishers, and print, less and less relevant. So what's next? What will happen to the publishing industry? Where will we find emerging talent? No one knows, but I keep myself busy with these questions every day [laughs].
What draws you to photobooks and publications?
Besides Foam, I never considered photography museums as being relevant in identifying and showcasing emerging trends in contemporary photography. I did, however, find this in the photobook scene. I even think that the history of photography – if we speak about photography, because the meaning of 'artist books' for contemporary art is different - is essentially something equivalent to the history of the photobook. The emerging trends in photography, or underground photography, if you will, has always been captured in the photobook scene. This is what has drawn me the field.
There has been quite an explosion in the photobook in the past 10-15 years, and the Dutch are well-known for their photobooks. Why do you think this is the case?
There are three reasons why the Dutch photobooks have become known worldwide. The first is the policy towards art publications by the FondsBKVB. People forget it, but it has played a key role in developing a very strong art publication scene in Holland. If the goal was to produce the best art publications, the job has been done. The second reason is the strong collaboration between artist/photographers and graphic designers. The work of the photograph in addition to the knowledge of the graphic designer makes the difference. The third reason is a nondogmatic approach to photography. The Dutch dare to challenge and offer new forms of photography. While French photography is still busy with French Humanism (i.e. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis) and German photography with the Dusseldorf School, the Dutch scene is very much under the influence of De Stijl but still able to renew itself, generation after generation.
What can visitors of Unseen Photo Fair expect of Offprint Amsterdam?
They can expect artist and photobooks for collectors: artist- and photobooks have definitely achieved the status of 'artworks' over the last few years. We have invited cutting-edge publishers as well as well-known antiquarians. But visitors can also expect publications by upcoming artists, graphic designers and photographers who have recently graduated from art schools. In that sense, Offprint is also for professionals in search of upcoming and emerging young talent.
Thank you Yannick, we are looking forward to the first edition of Offprint Amsterdam!