HIP LITTLE ART BOOKS ARE A DIME A DOZEN (or so it seems) but the Pocko Collection is particularly ambitious -- like their ostensible namesake, the first tightrope walker to cross Niagara Falls. Founded in London in 1999 by Royal College of Art graduates, the Pocko Group aims to publish 96 of the slender, immaculately produced books, each of them "an amalgamation of explosive cultural contradictions," according to Pocko co-founder Nicola Schwartz.
The first seven volumes in the series feature a wide range of talent from Japan, Spain, Italy, Israel, USA and Scotland. The results, in other words, are mixed. Day by Day, Ori Gersht and Tracy Ferguson's photo-documentation of their relationship, strays into mere fashion photography, if not total narcissism. Atsuhide Ito's Dear Thank You Yours Sincerely, a series of the artist's rejection letters from galleries, is amusing though not particularly original.
Among the smarter books, Paul McDevitt's Lost Weekend, 274 whimsical drawings (a man with a megaphone shouting into a satellite dish, a bouquet of flowers blooming out a man's ass) done while locked for days in his bare white studio, is part Mike Kelley, part Gary Larson. And Power Smile, two German teenagers' unsettling photo collection of U.S. senators frozen in face-splitting grins is a subtle examination of the relationship between the physicality of the human face and dynamics of political power.
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Upcoming releases will draw work from Finland, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Ukraine. The current series ($8 each, $59 for collection) is available at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art, the Diesel store in the Beverly Center, and at www.pocko.com.