The Positions and Situations Project is a series of three artist books consisting of 100 letter correspondences and 10 interviews between myself and 1970s "back-to-the-landers" who placed classified ads in magazines and publications from the post-counterculture era.
The Back-to-the-Land Movement came about after the 1960s counterculture, when many young people were disillusioned with the political system, consumerism, pollution, and the Vietnam War and were looking for land and a community to test out their ideals. From the late-sixties through the mid-seventies, one of the largest urban to rural migrations in American history occurred. In the classified ads, full names, addresses, and ages are often listed, and I used that information to search for a current address on public records search sites. My initial letter form to the ad-placers asked two questions: What came of the ad, and did you find what you were looking for the year the ad was placed? The letters encompass the failures and accomplishments of the back-to-the-landers in imagining and creating alternatives to a society they understood as fundamentally broken.
These letters, interviews, archival materials, and photographs will be published as three Risograph printed artist books that encompass first-hand stories from the Back-to-the-Land Movement. Looking similar to a copy machine, the Risograph offers a do-it-yourself process that prints one color of ink at a time using a thermal cut screen from a digital image. Its technology comes from the Mimeograph, and the prints have a tactile quality that is reminiscent of the pre-digital age of the alternative press.
In July, I was awarded an East Bay Fund for Artists grant from the East Bay Community Foundation towards the completion of The Positions and Situations Project books and a public presentation in the East Bay. This grant is a match fund grant, which means I need to raise the awarded amount of $7,500 on my own by November 30th to receive the funds from EBCF. I'm using Kickstarter's all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform to help me reach my match goal.
10% of all the donations to my match fund and the EBCF award go to my fiscal sponsor Pro Arts to fund their important programming and exhibitions. An anchor in the heart of downtown Oakland, Pro Arts is a nonprofit art institution, devoted to social inclusion by increasing exposure to marginalized artists, working at the interstice of art and social change.
I cannot finish this project without your help in making this match grant process a success! In addition to being able to purchase materials and equipment, this funding will enable me to print larger and more affordable editions of the books, which means more people can experience the project and read these stories.
Volume 1: 1968-1973
Last summer, I compiled, designed, printed, and bound Volume 1, which spans ads posted between 1968 and 1973. Printed Matter, The Hammer Museum, and Artbook @ MoMA PS1 (among others!) carry the book. The next book in the series, Volume 2: 1974-1975, will be released at the Vancouver Art Book Fair on October 18th, and with the help of the EBCF grant, Volume 3: 1975-1976 will be released spring 2019.
Volume 2: 1974-1975
Volume 2 is finished as of October and ready to ship! Currently, it is only available online by donating to this Kickstarter, so be the first to get a copy. It includes 41 letters, 2 interviews, and many interesting surprises. It is printed in 5 colors, 190 pages, 9.5 x 11.75 in, and perfect bound in a limited edition of 200.
Why This Project Is Important
This year marks fifty years since 1968. In addition to its historical importance, the project is making company for readers who share back-to-the-land dreams of their own, as a friend put it recently. While each letter is addressed to me, the stories, reflections, and advice can be read as if they are meant for the reader. I think it is important that they are made accessible to whomever wants to read them while they navigate dreams of their future or reflect on movements past.
Because the project straddles art, alternative publishing, and history, its audience is varied and attracts attention from folks within these areas. It draws people who were involved in the movement and younger people who are interested in these issues but might not be familiar with the history. During the zeitgeist towards sustainability in the past decade, the letters provide a sobering and inspiring perspective from people who faced similar challenges forty years ago.
How the Funds Will Be Used
The funds will be used towards printing equipment, ink, paper, interview transcriptions, commissions for written introductions, studio rent, and continued research for The Positions and Situations Project, culminating in a book release for Volume 3: 1975-1976 in Oakland planned for 2019. Volume 3 will include 38 letters and 4 interviews.
How the Project Will Be Shared
The books will be distributed through wholesale, my website, select book shops, and art book fairs around the country. I will donate the books to public and university library collections for greater accessibility. (Volume 1 is already available at Indiana University at Bloomington Fine Arts Library) This fall, I will share the project at both the Vancouver Art Book Fair and The Chicago Art Book Fair, and have plans on attending the LA Art Book Fair in February. Volumes 2 and 3 will be released in Bay Area bookshops and art spaces.
In addition to the support from Pro Arts and East Bay Community Foundation, I received a grant from The Puffin Foundation in support of The P&S Project. I was recently awarded a subsidized studio space at The Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA through their Affiliate Artist program. I will print the Volume 3 in Building 960, a former ammunition warehouse that overlooks a Nike Missile Site and the Pacific Ocean.
This project was produced with the additional support of the following organizations and programs: Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Residency, This Will Take Time, PLAYA Summer Lake, The Wormfarm Institute, The Hambidge Center, and Salmon Creek Farm, among others.
All donations will have their name printed in Volume 3: 1975-1976.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges involved with making a book from design to print are definitely real, though after a year experience with Riso printers and learning the processes involved, I feel confident to face them. The biggest obstacle I've faced so far is the not enough money or time problem. This grant will help solve both!
The main specters for delays in this project are potential Riso machine breakdowns (but I know a guy for that!). Beyond that, the project is essentially completed after three years of steady work, and it just needs this extra push in funding to put it all together in its book form. Please help me make it happen!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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