In Numbers

The idea for the exhibition In Numbers at the ICA grew out of my person interest and experience in publishing and a discussion with collector Philip E Aarons and Andrew Roth, who had published the catalogue.

As co-editor of the serial publication NOVEL, a collection of artist writings, I feel that there is an enhanced value in the tangible nature of the book form that cannot be reproduced by digital media. We felt that the exhibition at the ICA would tap into the growing appreciation of individuals and groups that produce books as part of their art practice, expressing an arguable necessity to create an object that is physically present in the world. The publications you see here are by young artists operating at the peripheries of mainstream art cultures, and established artists looking for an alternative to the marketplace. The publications are artworks, often idiosyncratic and produced in collaboration, and they do not feature news items, criticism, or reproductions of artworks. I’ve chosen a selection which I particularly like and feel define this often neglected art form.

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is curator of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and co-editor of the annual publication NOVEL, which focuses on artists’ writing and poetry. Prior to his appointment at the ICA, he was curator of the International Project Space from 2008 to 2010.

Philip E. Aarons is Chairman and President of Printed Matter, the world’s largest non-profit organisation dedicated to publications made by artists. He is the co-editor of the catalogue In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, which accompanies the ICA exhibition. As well as collecting serial artist publications, he also collects contemporary art in general including larger works, videos, works on paper and paintings.

Andrew Roth specialises in selling rare photographs and artists’ books from the 20th century, while also publishing limited edition books under his imprint PPP Editions. He maintains a gallery in New York primarily exhibiting the work of photographic artists from the 60s and 70s, as well as contemporary art. PPP Editions published In Numbers: Serial Publications By Artists Since 1955.

All images courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art, London.

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists since 1955 is on display at the ICA until March 25, 2012.

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