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About the University

INSIDE/OUT Lecture Series: James Hoff


INSIDE/OUT Lecture Series: James Hoff

Presented by: James Hoff

Flying in from New York City, the American artist James Hoff talked about his own art work and his publishing imprint, Primary Information. The visit was made possible by our affiliate partner, the ICA in London.

In 2006, James Hoff co-founded Primary Information as a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing artists’ books. At the root of its inception was a dedication to the facsimile form and the republication of artists books and magazines that were no longer in print or available despite being part of ongoing conversations around contemporary artistic practice. This need was compounded by the scholarship around artists’ books from the 1960s forward which championed the book as a democratic and accessible form, one in which artists could escape the cultural exclusion and geographic rigidity of the museum and gallery space in favour of the open plain of the paperback book.

The founders of Primary Information saw the high retail value of canonical artists’ books (many of which sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on the secondary market) as antithetical to the work’s original mission as well as detrimental to the education of artists who could not afford or view them, which were typically isolated in culturally privileged spaces (museum libraries and private collections). Primary Information was initially started to address these needs and over the last ten years has published facsimile editions of Avalanche, Allan Kaprow’s How to Make a Happening, Something Else Press’ Great Bear Pamphlet Series, Destroy All Monsters magazine, Fantastic Architecture, Genesis P-Orridge’s GPO-G.P-O, Carl Andre’s Quincy, an anthology of Real Life Magazine, several of Seth Siegelaub’s catalogues from the 1960s and many more.

As the organisation progressed, its founders saw the need to work with contemporary artists to bridge its historical/archival emphasis with new modes being explored by contemporary artists. In particular, the organization became interested in those modes cantered around artists’ writings, though its work with contemporary artists are not limited to this focus. Since 2011, the organisation has worked with Lutz Bacher, Fia Backström, Darren Bader, Sara Crowner, Florian Hecker, Elad Lassry, and C Spencer Yeh, among others.

Hoff will discuss the development of Primary Information’s mission, it’s history, and its challenges, while touching on the formation of artists’ book making in the 1960s as an artistic practice/mode.

Hoff’s work as an artist takes on a multitude of media (painting, sound, performance). It is centred on distributed forms and experiments with language that address culture-bound illnesses as linguistic multiples, computer viruses as generative sources for paintings and music, and ear worms as a model for self-distributing music. Hoff has sought to explore the ways in which artistic production can either be generated through self-distributing communicative or media phenomenon (the computer virus, the earworm) or sought out ways in which he can insert his work or these phenomena into pre-existing distribution channels.

James Hoff is an artist and publisher based in Brooklyn, NY:

This event was part of the INSIDE/OUT Lecture Series 2016/17 organised by Professor Simon Morris.