As editor and director of TONIC magazine, Camila has participated in various independent initiatives —such as KM-0 Colectivo de Artistas— and has carried out workshops and consultancies at Color Animal, as well as working as Commercial Director at AFA Gallery. In 2016, the FAVA Library project was born: a collection of quality contemporary art magazines and artist books that is largely nourished by Ch.ACO’s Nave de Ediciones section, which Camila curates. We spoke to her about this year’s program and about the publishing scene that exists in Latin America today.
1. What does the second edition of the Nave de Ediciones section entail, and can we expect to find in it?
This edition has grown in comparison to last year’s, which consisted in revealing the strong body of art, design, and theory publications that are being developed in the region. For this second version, we are delving into the hypothesis of the book object or artist book. In a hyper-connected world, we are gradually losing sight of two main focal points: firstly, the dialogue between the reader and the book as a personal experience; and secondly, the democratization of digital publications, which at some point became an excess of consumption in which books as lost their protagonism as objects, since the idea of their material quality, reading time, their own weight and the relationship with the images contained within were sacrificed in when faced with the necessity of having everything on one device. This year’s proposal is to put a stop to the decay of these two phenomenons and to regard publications once more as a space for time and reflection on works and ideas. This comes in addition to the possibility that each creator’s works of art or proposal can travel around the world at a lower cost, without losing its personal relationship with the spectator. This year, we shall be presenting publishers who are significantly involved in this issue, such as Chilean publishers Popolet, Meier Ramirez from Peru, Danilo Montanari from Italy, Marmol magazine from Chile, and the independent Argentinean publishing house Big Sur, amongst others. All of these are creative, intellectual, and distributing endeavors, which shall contribute to the observation space that I am seeking to create for this edition.
2. What your criteria when it comes to selecting the publishers that you invite to take part in Nave de Ediciones?
As editor of TONIC, I’m constantly in contact with Latin American editors, which is how I’ve developed different concerns in regard to the Fair’s publications section. The idea behind Nave is to generate new questions, not provide answers, and at the same time be able to bring the region’s publishers together in order to reflect and communicate with readers. The selection criteria has to do with the central hypothesis, and from this question, I seek out publishers that can reflect both through experience as well as through their process, and the result is what I am putting forward. I’m also interested in summoning publishers who believe in community, which was last year’s strong point. The Fair’s five days of duration, along with the co-existence that takes place during this instance, always generates new opportunities and relationship, which stimulates progress in a field that can sometimes be very rough.
3. How would you explain what an artist book is? How does it differ from a book as we typically know it?
The artist book starts from the same premises as an ordinary book, but what changes is the development of an idea. The format is freer and its imagery goes beyond the text, embracing an infinity of resources. It’s an object that defies two-dimensionality of a common reading book and generally has a more limited number of editions, which results in procuring collection pieces.
4. Recently in Chile, we’ve seen a rise in publishing houses and micro-publishers. Do you consider that printed media is having a good moment in our country?
Personally, I’m impressed by the number of micro-publishers and publishers in Chile, since we are quite an academically oriented country when it comes to art, and this tends to somehow restrict freer spaces for communication. Although this is compounded by the fact that there is often a scarce and precarious audience for these kinds of proposals, we still have a strong relationship with these publications, which I think is quite interesting in a seismic country whose archives are always at some risk. In spite of this, I wouldn’t say that we’re going through a good moment, because I associate good moments to self-sustainable communities with public and private support. Rather, I think that this rise in publishing activity has to do with the need to communicate and appreciate the ideas of younger generations who feel an urgency for switching up formats. To me, it’s an act of avant-garde sensitivity that projects the idea of appurtenance and patrimony.
5. And what do you think of this issue in Latin America?
Latin America is an exceptional region that, when it sets out to react as a community, it emerges as a strong nation. This is why I believe there is a feeling of closeness between Chile and the rest of the region. I think that we are all in the pursuit of ridding the multiple languages of art of European influences, and this has generated a strong rise in publications, a phenomenon that I see is happening a little slower in Chile, but is happening nonetheless. An important difference from the rest of the region has to do with third-party contraptions to publishing houses: in outer countries, there is economic support for these projects and a general awareness of the importance of their existence. There are even strong philanthropic efforts that aim for their permanence, something that Chile is lacking. I think that this space at Ch.ACO Fair puts forward the idea that publications are an important part of the chain of value behind works of art, not separating symbolic affection from what is required from the market at an instance of these characteristics.
Photo courtesy of Camila Opazo