Letter from the Editors
When we first decided on the topic of this issue – our 5th, which feels like a milestone – bringing it up in casual conversation with colleagues, we were naturally met with the response: “That’s a big topic”.
It is a big one. And one with a growing presence in the art ecosystem. Some references that appeared in our initial research included articles such as ”Art in Solidarity with Itself” in Arts of the Working Class (2021), “The Artworld’s Crisis of Solidarity in Art Review (2020), and “How Can Art Support Solidarity Movements” in Frieze (2019); as well as the exhibition “Actions of Art and Solidarity” at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo (2021); and the corresponding publication Art and Solidarity Reader published by Valiz (2022), to name a few.
As might be expected, Documenta Fifteen has also become central to conversations around solidarity and art over the past few months – it’s mentioned in several instances in this issue, though each with a different focus: whether on the approach to curating, childcare, or friendship. The label of friendship itself is also considered within a systemic/institutional context here: in its potential to be weaponized and alternatively perceived as weapon or threat, in texts by Linnéa Bake, and Jasper Westhaus.
Linnéa’s contribution also takes a publication as its point of departure, just as Maya Wallis – who joined us for a residency last summer – offers a review of a collaborative publishing project of her own. This again brings us back to Documenta Fifteen: namely, to its lumbung of Publishers, which offered independent publishers the opportunity to share knowledge and build a lasting network. And as independent publishers ourselves, it makes us reflect on our own networks and ways of working, and how solidarity might be practiced in this context.
Of course, the sharing of resources and knowledge is deeply embedded in independent publishing practices in ways both direct and indirect. After attending our first publishing fair in 2019, we were pleasantly surprised by the supportive environment and the sense of community we encountered there: from exchanging books with other publishers to looking after each other’s tables during a much-needed break. It has even led to lasting connections and friendships in both our personal and professional lives.
It is even in the fiber of this print issue: We recently implemented a new font – Inconstant Regular – online and in print, which is offered free of charge by Dyslexia Scotland and was developed together with designer Daniel Brokstad in order to offer a font that is accessible, appealing and readily available for publishing and design projects. Riso-printing itself we learned last year with the help of our friend Rada Nastai of Bruise Studio. And then there are our friends and colleagues (e.g., Celia Stroom and Maya Wallis) who have kindly offered to facilitate stocking our issues in bookshops from Newcastle to Athens. Or paper positions berlin and She BAM! Galerie Laetitia Gorsy in Leipzig, which have so kindly supported us again and again along this journey.
This specific aspect of solidarity – engrained in the pages of a publication through all of the processes and parts that come together in its production – is even alluded to by Suzanne Dikker at the start of her text, which considers the topic from a material perspective. Continued Conversations… also begin their collaborative text by noting the ‘solid’ in solidarity – as requiring something concrete. But what comes through more and more, not just in their contribution but throughout the issue as a whole is that solidarity is far more difficult to pin down than that: solid yet fluid, maintained yet messy.
This issue, perhaps fittingly, has above all become a place of reflection and a collection of ideas: on what solidarity might mean in terms of artistic labor (Çağla Arıbal and Adam Walker), on how we might practice solidarity collectively even when we find ourselves on the outside (İpek Burçak), and on how small yet powerful opportunities for solidarity might go unnoticed in our everyday lives (Mya Berger).