Coinciding with San Diego's Comic-Con convention, Space 4 Art will be hosting Do Anything, a group show focused on DIY publishing and printmaking curated by Christopher Kardambikis. The show opens tonight (Friday July 13th) and hosts an array of artists within this field. Here's what Chris had to say about the show when we spoke to him recently. —Maximilian Xeno Karnig
Christopher Kardambikis: Everyone is really doing something pretty different. It's going to be a packed show.
Maximilian Xeno Karnig: You're showing your book project too, right? Is this the first time that's been shown?
CK: Actually yeah it will be the first time its shown in a proper space. It's kind of funny, there's something happening for it the night before in New York City.
MXK: The institute for Extraterrestrial Sexuality and Encyclopedia Destructica?
CK: Yeah it's a joint publication. It's called Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities. It's asking seventy artists, writers, and even a few scientists as well to think about what non-humanoid, alien sex could be like or sexuality could be like.
MXK: I'm sure that could be very unusual and strange.
CK: We've gotten so many wonderful responses to it. The book itself is almost 300 pages. It's eleven inches by eleven inches, full color, professionally printed and bound. It has a DVD with it as well that features about fifteen different video pieces.
MXK: in what ways were you engaged with the book?
CK: My involvement is a co-curator of the project with Jasdeep Khaira and Suzie Silver.
MXK: I recognize parts of the book as yours. Did you design the book?
CK: I helped do the book design. There were three of us that worked on it. There was myself, Jasdeep Khaira, and Suzie Silver. We all sat down and hashed out how it should look. Jasdeep did all the heavy lifting of actually putting things into place for the book, but I have work in it. Susie has work in it. I designed the end sheets for it.
What's exciting is the book itself has a release party at Printed Matter in New York City on Thursday the 12th, and then on Friday the 13th is when the show opens, and the book is on display as part of the exhibit. The DVD will also be running on a loop in the gallery as well as on the outside stage for Space 4 Art for the opening, which is pretty awesome.
MXK: That sounds great. That's an awesome place for it to be on view.
CK: It's going to be pretty great. The show itself is all about artists and collectives that have a DIY print publication practice. So people who do zines or print editions that could be posters or silk screen prints, or independent comics and stuff like this.
MXK: I remembered that you mentioned Louis (Schmidt, co-owner of Double Break) would have some of his zines in there, in addition to a solid list of others.
CK: The whole show is built up around three fields. In one field, I've asked three artists to present a curated selection of their zine collection. So that includes Darin Klein, Louis Schmidt, and Mary Tremonte. They have their own work in the show as well as their zine collections. So there will be three vitrines in the gallery that house their collections of stuff. Darin is presenting a collection of his mini zines, which are a quarter of a sheet or smaller. Some are even matchbook sized. I'm not sure what Louis is putting in there from his collection quite yet.
MXK: Louis is doing a large drawing for the show as well too, right?
CK: Yeah, he's doing a ten foot long drawing and a zine that is based off the work for that.
Mary is doing two mini collections of zines in her vitrine. One is a greatest hits of the 90s and a greatest hits of the 00s.
MXK: That sounds great. Have you seen the greatest hits of the 90s yet?
CK: I've seen her zine collection before. When I was in Pittsburg, I did a residency with her in the Destructica studio. She does something pretty regularly where she sets up a reading corner in a space and for a few months we had that to an extent at the Encyclopedia Destructica studio.
MXK: It won't be like that at Space 4 Art though, it will be in a vitrine.
CK: Yeah, and that's the thing with this show. There's so much material in the show, and there are books you can pick up and purchase, but with everyone's personal zine collection, we'll try to keep them protected and away from the public. So those will be under glass and people won't be able to get at them.
But on August 4th, Louis and Darin will in the space talking about their zine collections and talking about the process of making zines, collecting them, and what that means to their practice, so that will be more like a show-and-tell.
Mary is also producing a series of handkerchiefs that are printed. One is an otter hanky. Another one's a bear. There's five all together. She also does these queer scout badges, and you'll be able to purchase collections of badges.
MXK: It sounds like there will be a breadth of options some more affordable for people wanting to spend less.
CK: Absolutely. I think these badges are $3. The Strange Attractors book is $50 because it's such a huge production. Other people will have zines that will be a lot less.
Juliacks, for example, is a friend that came from Pittsburg and someone I've spent time with in LA and out in Leon in France and she has a few book pieces in the show that range from five to ten dollars.
Ed Piskor, Ed Luce, and Tom Scioli all do comics. Ed Luce does Wuvable Oaf and he's going to be at Comic-Con. Ed Piskor does the Wizzywig and a series called "Boing Boing" on Brain Rot that's detailing the history of hip hop. He's sending us actual prints of the web comic pages. These will be limited edition prints each only fifty dollars each, which is insane.
MXK: That's very affordable.
CK: He's also playing with his original artwork and working with the way it's presented to make it look like it's printed on an old piece of newsprint like comics from the 70s. I absolutely love the work.
Then there's Tom Scioli who is doing a web comic called American Barbarian which is so much fun and crazy with Jack Kirby-like colors and compositions, and all the kind of stuff I'm into in terms of comic books. It has a very radically different feel than Ed Piskor's work.
Ed Luce is showing this series of shadow boxes, which are collections of ephemera surrounding his comic Wuvable Oaf. So some of his records, and album art, and original drawings from the comic book itself, and stickers and stuff like this are all presented at different depths in a frame on the wall.
There's one comics professional in the show that I absolutely love too. Her name is Bettie Breitweiser (a nominee for the Harvey Award for best colorist). She's a colorist for Marvel Comics. I really wanted to show her work because she comes from a background that is not comic books, and that's kind of the thing with the big comic book companies Marvel and DC is the people who are producing work for them, I feel like they are very grown-up comic book nerds reading stories for boys since they were five-years-old and meshed into this idea of what comics should look like, which often appears to me dangerously close to how video games and movies display the comic book world, which makes it all end up looking the same and uninteresting because of how that aesthetic operates. Betty is coming to comics with a design and fine art background and kind of fell into it by accident, so I think she's doing something very different with her color palette and how she's approaching the page. So, for example, these pages that she's doing, the black ink work and drawing are by someone else. That's how comics are produced. There's usually one person doing the writing, one person laying out the page in pencil, one person laying down heavy black ink, and one person coming and coloring it. So Bettie is able to do these things where she's washing out a lot of the blacks and replacing them with different blue, trying to use a two or three color scheme where the colors really bounce off each other and pop to highlight different things. So, she's the comics pro, the one who would be the most tied to what's going on at Comic-Con. I absolutely love her palette because she goes a long way to produce comics that are very different from anything else on the stands. So there will be comic pages up on the wall with Bettie's work, Ed Piskor's work, and Tom Scioli's work
There's also another part of the show at Double Break, which is a collection of five new zines by five artists, and each of these artists have either never made a zine before or by conversations with them have had expressed interest in doing a book piece. These are people I've been in contact with for years.
MXK: So this show at Double Break exhibits artists that don't necessarily have an established DIY publishing practice, but are interested in the field.
CK: Yeah. This is an impetus to actually make a zine.
For example there are these hand-made envelopes by Ben Hernstrom that are signed and editioned. There's also Jen Murray who usually works with drawing and does a lot of charcoal drawings on paper is working with photographs and working back into the photographs with drawn elements, which is a very different way for her to be approaching images and image making. And that's what's exciting about a project like this, asking them to approach their practice in a very different way. Josh Atlas is making a mixed tape, and doing all the packaging for it.
MXK: It's great how the show overall has a concentrated focus around DIY publications and practices, but within this focus, the featured work has a lot of variation.
CK: Yeah exactly. It moves around a few different territories. So that's what I'm really happy about with it. Even though it is happening during Comic-Con and comic book artists are involved in it, it's more these people that push out of what can be done with comics or printing projects. So you have something like Encyclopedia Destructica that does all hand-bound zines and books, or you have people like Justseeds who do prints and portfolios. They produce mostly posters. They're an activist artist collective and they'll have twenty posters from their new print portfolio, which will be pretty awesome. It will be one of the first things you see when you come into the show.
MXK: It works well with Comic-Con because it's not directly connected to it, but it encompasses interests that surround it.
CK: That's the thing. I'm not interested in presenting just another comic show or something the general public in San Diego might associate with comics. I'm more interested in this thing that discusses printing and distribution and how you actually get work out to people and how you consume it, especially with people who are doing this with a more DIY practice. You have to figure out how to find your audience and how to get your work done,and it builds up a different type of economy than this huge convention in downtown San Diego that gets so much Hollywood attention. It has this weird pop culture bubble around it. Do Anything is a really different set of work. You see really different concerns.
at San Diego Space 4 Art. July 13th - August 12th.
Opening Reception: July 13th, 6pm - 10pm
@ Space 4 Art
Zine Release: July 14th, 7pm - 10pm
Featuring new zines by: Josh Atlas, Jessica Greenfield, Ben Hernstrom, Jennifer Murray, and Jessica Vaughn!!
@ Double Break
Panel Discussion: July 15th, 7pm - 9pm
Featuring comic-artists Ed Piskor (creator of the graphic novel, Wizzywig and the web-comic Brain Rot), Ed Luce (creator of the comic books Wuvable Oaf and Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever).
@ Space 4 Art
Zine Discussion: August 4th, 2pm - 4pm.
Join artists Darin Klein and Louis M. Schmidt in a discussion of creating and collecting zines.
@ Space 4 Art