Here at HOME in Manchester (#WeArePartOfHOME) we have our very own innovative, provocative and collaborative vision for making art books. We asked Bren O’Callaghan, HOME’s Senior Producer of Visual Arts, some questions about their publishing achievements and what’s next?
Bren, what makes HOME publications stand-out from the crowd?
We don’t consider our titles to be exhibition catalogues, rather, they are independent commissions and artworks in their own right – not guidebooks or interpretive text. There has been surge of interest in the experimental written word and material printed form as legitimate artwork, too frequently overlooked. We also aim to contribute to gaps in our understanding of creative practice and forgotten histories, best exemplified by Subkultura: Stories of youth and resistance in Russia, 1815-2017, by Russian writer, musician and cultural commentator, Artemy Troitsky.
Are there any particular highlights in the HOME Publishing programme over the years that you would like to tell us about? Do you have any personal favourites?
Our pulp-style twist upon the romance novel, Transaction of Desire Vol 1, was the first title created in our new purpose-built home-at-HOME with original short-story contributions from the likes of Douglas Coupland. You Are Here: Art After The Internet, edited by Omar Kholeif remains the go-to title on this subject, but I think it would have to be Dark Habits, a compendium of new writing exploring hedonism and taboo, which the first printer we approached declined to produce. In their words, “We refuse to expose our staff to the contents of this publication”. We subsequently used their statement as marketing copy!
As for the future of HOME publishing, what’s coming next? Anything exciting? Can you tease us with any tempting clues?!
Our brand-new publication, John Walter: CAPSID, addressing a crisis of representation surrounding viruses such as HIV, is flying out, with over a quarter of the first print run already sold. One Day The Sadness Will End by Declan Clarke and Sarah Perks collates a diverse pool of people, instances and cultural shifts betrayed by revolution; from Rosa Luxemburg to Tetris, Karl Marx to Cilla Black. We are also in the very early stages of an exciting title with a major offbeat film director and artist whose first extensive UK solo show we are in pre-production upon!
If you could offer one piece of advice to an art space/organisation looking to start a venture into publishing, what would it be?
Assuming you have a budget in place and your goal is to break-even (because if it’s profit you’re chasing, I’d recommend opening a bar instead), then find a designer or design agency with whom you can build a mutually beneficial relationship. This might be someone starting out who needs to expand their portfolio, or someone with more experience but a hunger for greater diversity of client (because bigger-paying projects are often the dullest to work on, so your nano-budget artist zine may have more appeal than you might initially think). Aim to foster repeat collaboration, rather than hop between hot designers.
Thank you, Bren.
There are other independent publishers based here in Manchester too, like Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art and Castlefield Gallery. Have a browse of their titles, to see what they have on offer.
We love Manchester – it’s the place to be! And if you ever come here for a visit don’t forget to visit our very own HOME Arts Centre. We have spaces to eat, drink, shop, watch films, take in new theatre, be inspired by exhibitions and just chat with friends. Come and see what we have to offer as we do so much more on top of publishing and distributing art books around the world.