On the occasion of the LOOK BOOK exhibition at Palazzo Caetani in Cisterna di Latina, the Malaspina Foundation has acquired a new collection of titles from Fw: Books and Roma Publications, selected by Chiara Capodici (Leporello, photobooks et al.)
The intertwining between Fw: Books and Roma Publications stems from a long Dutch tradition of collaborations between photographers and designers, which finds its roots in the 1920s and 1940s with an interesting revival in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fw: Books was founded in 2004 as a collective of 10 photography students at the St. Joost Academy in Breda who, together with Hans Gremmen, produced a series of magazines to promote their work. The publishing house, now made up of designer and editor Hans Gremmen, artist Petra Stavast and curator Karin Krijgsman, was born almost by chance, when a Rotterdam publisher declared bankruptcy and, thanks to an investor, what was then again a collective decided to buy the entire stock of the 6 or 7 titles that had been published. One of the fundamental elements of the publishing house’s identity is represented by a constant questioning of the photographic medium and the medium of the book. The Pages exhibition, created in 2008 in collaboration with Claudia Kussel at the Netherlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, represented an important moment of definition: the selection wanted to return the image of the fertile Dutch photographic scene linked to the book form, focusing on its experimental aspects and from an artist or designer perspective. Attention to issues related to our contemporaneity is expressed not only through documentary language, but also in the form of the magazine, where theory and new photographic research find an interesting meeting point, without neglecting a dialogue with the tradition of minimal and conceptual art, and a special curiosity for the landscape of the United States. In recent years, Fw: Books has published the work of two Italian photographers, Marina Caneve and Nicola Nunziata, both attentive to the reflections and the potential of the photographic medium.
The history of Roma Publications begins in 1998, when Roger Willems, also a student of the St. Joost Academy in Breda and then assistant to Karel Martens, together with the artists Mark Manders and Marc Nagtzaam, began to print a series of publications characterized by an approach to the book considered as an exhibition space. The publishing career of Roma Publications is characterized by long-term collaborations with authors including, in addition to the founders, Jan Kempenaers, Geert Goiris, Batia Suter and Dana Lixemberg. Roma Publishing is more frequently confronted with the language of visual arts such as graphic design – since 2013 it has been the publisher of Karel Martens’ books – but also as painting, sculpture or performance. Since 2017 it has published the bulletins of the Serving Library, the last of which is dedicated to the first English translation of Bruno Munari’s Codice Ovvio. The exhibition dimension is an integrated part of an organic planning that we saw in the exhibition curated at the Giuliani Foundation in Rome in 2014.
The union of these interests and a long friendship between the two publishing houses has created the basis for a new project, launched in 2019. Enter Enter is a space dedicated to the debate around independent publishing and the art of the book, which has to his credit a series of exhibitions, including one dedicated to the publications of Karel Martens and initiatives such as the free poster Read Books, Buy Books, Buy Local designed by Hans Gremmen during the quarantine period. Scheduled for the end of October, Soft Copy Hard Copy is a project by Stephan Keppel, in which book and exhibition are in a continuous mix.
Enter Enter reaffirms the key function of the book that enters inbetween space and people, and becomes the object of exchange and circulation of thoughts. As Willems recalls in a recent interview, “the idea of happiness makes a lot of things possible, and if you keep this in mind, it’s very difficult to get away from your goals.”
Enter Enter, curated by Chiara Capodici (Leporello, photobooks et al.), is the new selection of books acquired by the Malaspina Foundation for its contemporary photography library and exhibited on the occasion of the LOOK BOOK exhibition at Palazzo Caetani in Cisterna di Latina.