Self Publish, Be Happy and Offprint take over Tate Modern's Turbine Hall

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The first time Self Publish, Be Happy was invited into Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, its programme included selfie stick aerobics and tectonic crystal healing. The second time it focused on the virtual world, and its activities included commissioning Lucas Blalock to make an installation with interactive, augmented reality images. This time, the third time, SPBH founder Bruno Ceschel wants to focus in on ideas.
“This year it felt that, politically and socially, the climate has changed quite a lot,” he tells BJP. “It felt more appropriate to do something around talking and also the subjects of books. As much as I can geek out about the cover of a book and the book as an object, I don’t want to forget that the the primary reason to make a book is to carry content.”

The Endless Bookclub at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria in March 2017
The Endless Bookclub at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria in March 2017
The result is the Endless Bookclub, a series of discussions around specific photobooks and texts, including My All by Sophie Calle, Incoming by Richard Mosse, Wako Book 5 by Wolfgang Tillmans and Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze by Charlotte Jansen. Specific speakers have been invited to discuss in each session, but Ceschel hopes that the members of the public who come will also get involved.
“The design is like a boy scout camp fire, the way the space is configured is non-hierarchical,” says Ceschel. “We won’t have a panel discussion and then invite the audience to ask questions afterwards, we want them to join in. It’s more the book as a starting point for a conversation. I want to engage with the power of content, and how content can challenge, engage, comfort, and so on.”
SPBH, which was founded in 2010 to champion self-published books and has since grown to include an artists’ book publishing imprint, ran a similar event in March at the Melbourne Art Book Fair, where the participants quite literally included scouts. For the London outing, groups invited to each session include The Institute of Psychoanalysis, The Royal College of Art MA Photography and Hands Off Our Revolution.
Selfie Stick Aerobics at Self Publish, Be Happy’s first outing in the Tate Modern in 2015
Self Publish, Be Happy’s second residency at Tate Modern in 2016.
“Hopefully there will be some interesting tensions between the content and the group of people discussing it, people who might not usually have access to art books, or the kind of publication available at Offprint,” says Ceschel. “It won’t just be about the artist’s narrative.”
SPBH’s now annual Turbine Hall outing is a collaboration with Tate Modern – but it also takes place in the middle of the Offprint publishing fair. This year Offprint is hosting 140 independent and experimental publishers in contemporary art, photography and graphic design, including Akina Books, Editorial RM, Here Press, Loose Joints, Mack, Aron Morel Books, RVB Books, and many more.
Self Publish, Be Happy and Offprint are at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall on 20 and 21 May, with an opening event from 6pm-10pm on 19 May.

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy