In the context of today’s corporatization and commodification of cultural institutions, and in situations where free speech becomes ever more precarious, independent publishing has shown extraordinary vitality and importance. In traditional or experimental forms, publications have played a key role in an exchange and inquiry of differing cultural ideas and artistic practice for centuries. They challenge conventional definitions of “institution” in their ability to produce and distribute knowledge and value to diverse audiences.
Publishing Against the Grain highlights the current state of independent, critical publishing as it exists in small journals, experimental publications, websites, radio, and other innovative forms around the world. It is organized around projects that connect theoretical, social, political and aesthetic questions with a focus on community. While most of the included projects are grounded in a particular place, the scope of the exhibition is broadened to examine projects that take as their location identitarian and diasporic communities rather than a particular geography.
Curators, artists, scholars, and art spaces from an international network of collaborators selected key publishing projects to be explored by diverse audiences. Editors of the selected publications nominated additional projects, expanding the range represented and forming a genealogy of discourse. The accumulation continues as this exhibition travels, and a new publishing project is included at every hosting venue.