Publishing Manifestos includes forty-seven pieces of writing about publishing; some lengthy and comprehensive, some actual photocopied manifestos, some reading more like poems, one of them a comic by Michael Baers, and one of them as short as the artist Jonathan Monk's statement "I have no publishing manifesto." The contents, spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, are useful for artists, teachers, and enthusiasts alike, and will motivate just about anyone looking to justify printing ink on paper. The final hundred pages give context to these proclamations in terms of the history of the book's publisher, Miss Read. Miss Read--located in Berlin--has been the premier Art Book Festival in Europe for the past ten years, providing a platform for hundreds of different artists, authors, and publishers among their exhibitors. Included in this section are photographs of each festival's catalog cover, with links to free PDFs of each, as well as a list of six hundred exhibitors in a "Who's Who of publishers as they showed up in 10 years Miss Read" a sprawl of imprints that spans the major cities of the globe, with a heavy European delegation.
The editor of the publication and director of the festival, Michalis Pichler, contributes a wonderful introduction. Although the manifestos themselves are ordered chronologically, beginning with Gertrude Stein's "Book" section of Tender Buttons (1914), Pichler proposes themes by which readers might organize them: for example, there are those that focus on structural analysis, reading, distribution, self-publishing, print on demand, and/or the book as alternative mise-en-scene. With such an abundance of material, Pichler makes clear that the book itself is something of a celebration: "The largest part of material compiled in Publishing Manifestos stems from the 21st century," he writes in a section claiming that "books [are] not dead." Consequently, independent and art bookfairs "are spreading like mushrooms." Alongside the efforts of Other Books and So (Amsterdam), Printed Matter, Inc. (New York), and Zona Archives (Florence), contemporary publishing is a field teeming with activity. This is further borne out in the program of events Miss Read produces, especially the tenth annual Berlin Art Book Festival, held from May 3-5 in 2019.
Some of the included "manifestos"--which their authors did not necessarily intend as such--require more work to make sense of than others. A reproduction of a typed Ray Johnson poem from 1967, "Many years ago I drew snakes," mentions nothing about publishing per se but offers a brief reference to his mail art network, which is most likely the point. More reflection on how Johnson's concept of artistic exchange through the postal system has influenced publication and distribution would be welcome from such a cast of contributors as includes Matthew Stadler, Seth Price, Aurelie Noury, Tan Lin, or even Pichler himself. The same goes for the inclusion of Jorge Luis Borges's "On the Cult of Making Books," which Pichler tantalizingly references as a text mentioned by just about every living person asked to contribute to Publishing Manifestos in an initial (unpublished) questionnaire. …
Palmieri, Brooke Sylvia, "Michalis Pichler, Editor. Publishing Manifestos," Northhampton, MA: Printing History, , 2019