One of the tasks in my itinerary was to find out about Other Books and So, an artist run bookshop in Amsterdam organised and hosted by Ulises Carrión that ran from 1975-1978. I’ve undertaken some desktop research to establish how the shop was started which has helped me contextualise San Serriffe and Boekie Woekie within Amsterdam’s long history of receiving printed matter from artists all over the world.
Noticeably, collaboration with friends is a key part of getting started. In 1975, eighteen friends of Carrión, clubbed together and paid 100 Guilders each to pay the first 6 months rent for a 6 x 10 metre, low ceilinged basement at Herengracht 227.
The shop stocked cards, postcards, magazines, audio tapes, stencils, offset print, photocopies, letterpress, rubberstamp and hand written work. The shop also worked as a gallery presenting visual poetry, Fluxus, stamp art, mail art and performance. Works were presented flat on tables and in cabinets.
Elements of these activities are reflected in both Boekie Woekie and San Serriffe and it’s interesting that Gerrit Jan de Rook proposes that that Other Books and So became a ‘model for a generation of artists, curators and designers who’ve opened publishing houses and galleries’.
I missed out on the exhibitions exploring renewed interest in Carrión in London in 2009 and subsequently with Book Show at Eastside Projects in 2010. I found out about Carrión through reading Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden’s Manifesto for the Book which begins by referencing The New Art of Making Books. published in Kontexts, 1975.
At Other Books and So unknown artists from Europe, the USA and Latin America shared space with well known artists; Ed Ruscha and Sol Lewitt for example.
In 1978, after a move to a bigger space the previous year, Other Books and So lost it’s subsidies and was taken over for a while by other artists before closing.
As an artist and educator running a temporary shop and a book fair, I’ve placed myself in various, unexpected situations and roles which has allowed me to draw on different sets of skills. It interests me that Gerrit Jan de Rook writes that Carrión, through running the bookshop, was ‘liberated from being an artist’ and that being an organiser and a gallery became an essential part of his work.