Last weekend's first annual L.A. Art Book Fair brought more than 200 independent publishers, galleries and booksellers from more than 20 countries to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA to talk art, hock prints and sell books. When we visited on Saturday, the massive Little Tokyo space was bustling with food trucks, author and artist talks and book signings from Ben Jones, Steve Roden, Dan Colen, Harmony Korine and others.
Amidst the noisy chaos of a couple thousand artists and zine zealots from L.A. and around the world, we rounded up the best things we heard all weekend, including quotes from panelists and fair-goers alike.
Overheard in front of the bathrooms:
Guy 1: What do you think of the art fair?
Guy 2: It's too much. It's just… too many words. I like ephemeral work, it's just… it's too much. It's daunting.
Guy 1: It's 2:30. I think I need a drink.
Overheard outside the fair:
“We all have ADHD. Because in ADHD, everything is important. You can't filter it out. Us, collectively, is ADHD.” –A group of people who are collectively ADHD.
Overheard from an exhibitor:
“Three girls and myself wanted to start a band but we don't know how to play instruments so we just decided to collage all of our stuff together so it looked like what we thought the band would sound like.” —Eunice Luk, Fantasy Camp Books, Toronto, on making art that sounds like music.
Overheard at Ben Jones' artist talk, “Men On Video” at 1 p.m.:
“Television is Seinfeld and art is Sol LeWitt. I want to make sure those final products are different. Bringing art to the streets is like, a horrible idea.
—Artist Ben Jones on why street art is a horrible idea.
“That's been a big thing, having [Howard Stern] a part of my daily process. Like therapy almost.” — Ben Jones on making art while listening to Howard Stern.
“I think video in a gallery setting sucks, because you have to stand up and watch it.” –Ben Jones on why video art in a gallery sucks.
Overheard at “A Conversation Between L.A. Bookmakers” panel at 3 p.m.:
“One time I was with Deana and we just buried a bunch of zines in the sand. That's like, our [way of] promotion. Because then, the person who finds it is like, holy shit, I just found a zine in the sand. That same day, I found a joint in the sand. And I smoked it.” –Jesse Spears, Fuckers Books, Los Angeles, on zine promotion.
“If you make something and somebody actually wants it, it's like, holy shit, are you kidding me? Like, that's such an honor.” –Spears on giving away free zines.
“I'd rather be an artist than some other fuckin' shit. There's nothing else I could do.” –Spears on being an artist.
“You can be on top of the world one day, and the next day, you're in the bargain bin.” — Moderator Johnnie JungleGuts on the woes of being a commercial artist.
Then the conversation turned to finances:
“I have a background in shoplifting to pay for my publishing. I just pay for like, a third of it. It's how I play the game.” –Spears on paying for publishing.
“I love working in print. The only thing holding me back is the cost of color copies.” –one of the panelists on being held back (in the confusion of the conversation, we missed the name).
Then the conversation got kind of tangential and existential all at once:
“There needs to be more women in sports commentating. And more smart people, too. The NBA has gotten more stylish recently, but I don't know that they've gotten smarter.” — JungleGuts on the NBA.
“[Working at Facebook] is kind of like a prison, where once you start working, you have to keep eating and dry cleaning your clothes and eating the candy.” –one of the panelists on founding a zine library for the employees of Facebook.
“You can focus on the horizon line and go towards it for a couple hours, or you could just hang out in a parking lot. The world is a mystery and I'm just taking it slow.” –one of the panelists on living and working in Los Angeles.
Then things got really weird during the same panel discussion:
“Fuck you, man. No, it's cool. Sorry. Uh, what?” –Spears on being confused during a panel discussion.
“It's definitely like: eat shit, fuck off, no.” –Spears on saying no to artist collaborations.
“I'm starting to feel like I'm made out of jelly right now.” –Spears on feeling like jelly during a panel discussion.
“I'm looking into the audience and everyone looks like a Krispy Kreme donut.” –JungleGuts on being hungry while moderating a panel discussion.
Then things got meta and Spears got scared but the L.A. Book Fair had to end eventually:
“I'm scared for [the L.A. Art Book Fair] to be over. It's like the Scholastic book fair, but way different. I'm not just buying stickers anymore.” –Spears on the L.A. Art Book Fair.