Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is pleased to present a summer exhibition of recent chapbooks, novels, newspapers, and zines by artists, from the inventories of eight small publishers in North America and Europe. Broken Scissors, A Ghost, and Some More Old News is evidence of WPA’s renewed interest in artist publishing. It is also a show that intentionally challenges the conventions of artist book display. 

WPA has a significant history with this subject. From 1981 to 1995, it ran a now-legendary bookstore called Bookworks, at 7th Street and D Street NW. While it has been two decades since Bookworks closed, this fall WPA will begin to publish a mini-magazine and will again carry a selection of artist publications for purchase.   

Broken Scissors, A Ghost, and Some More Old News include selections from Badlands Unlimited (New York), Fivehundred Places (Berlin), Innen (Geneva), Nieves (Zürich), Paraguay Press (Paris), Pork Salad Press (Copenhagen), Public Collectors (Chicago), and Ultra-Red (Los Angeles and elsewhere). The artists whose works will be present include: Dokidoki Club, Fischli & Weiss, Camille Henrot, James Hoff, Will Holder, Liz Magic Lazer, and others. These selected publications reverberate with the history of artist-publishing, from the small press scene of the 1960s and 70s (Something Else Press and concrete poetry), through the visually assaultive punk and photo-zines that followed. Taken together, they are modest in scale, inexpensively produced, and can be easily circulated.

The display encourages absorption over browsing, solitary engagement over sociability. Unlike in other artist-book shows, the selections are not curated in piles on tables or on bookshelves. Instead, they are placed in minimalist, open-faced, reading rooms—each of which is devoted to a single publisher and able to handle no more than one or two people at a time. Visitors are encouraged to spend a prolonged period of time in each room, temporarily immersing themselves in the handful of titles from each publisher. When a visitor steps into a reading room and takes a seat, she is framed and on view—as a reader, as an actor, as an image—to other visitors.

This project and Washington Project For the Arts Inc. are supported by the City Fund, which works to make the District of Columbia a more healthy, stable, and vibrant place to live for all its residents. The City Fund is administered by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

Funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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About the Publishers

Badlands Unlimited is a New York-based independent publisher founded by the artist Paul Chan in 2010. It consists of artists Ian Cheng, Micaela Durand, and Matthew So. The press publishes texts by and with other artists in the form of paperbacks, ebooks, a stone book, and other various media.
Fivehundred Places is a new poetry press established in Berlin by U.S.-born visual artist Jason Dodge. It seeks to build bridges between the contemporary poetry and art communities by situating poetry in a fine art context. 
Innen is an independent zine publisher founded by Hungarian graphic designer Aaron Fabian in Budapest in 2006 to promote Hungarian and international contemporary artists. In 2012, Innen relocated to Geneva, Switzerland. 
Nieves is a Publishing House based in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded in 2001 by the artist and illustrator Benjamin Sommerhalder, Nieves publishes Artists' Books and Zines.
Paraguay Press is the publishing house of castillo/corrales, a gallery in Paris. It was created by the artists and designers who direct the gallery to reclaim control of the means of creation, production, and distribution of the books in which their work appears, as well as to publish the work of artists, writers, and institutions whose work they admire.
Pork Salad Press is an imprint founded by Danish curator Jacob Fabricius, currently the artistic director of the Kunsthal Aarhus in northern Denmark. Pork Salad Press published its first edition of Old News in 2004.
Public Collectors, administered by artist Marc Fischer, organizes exhibitions and events, participates in exhibitions organized by others, creates exhibition opportunities for collectors, teaches, lectures, responds to research inquiries, and makes its own publications.
Ultra-red are a sound art collective founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists. Originally based in Los Angeles, the collective has expanded and now includes artists, researchers, and organizers from different social movements working in North America and Europe. 


July 16 - August 20, 2016


Washington Project for the Arts
2124 8th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001