When I decided to start publishing independently, the first thing I felt was that every step I would take towards a new book should be gentle, with no rush. Once you decide to face the editor/artist relationship as magical, you know that timing should be your friend.
The moment of the encounter is not necessarily the right timing for a project to start being developed. It is, instead, a seed to be watered and fed until the right moment for blooming happens.
I met Eli Sudbrack - from the art collective AVAF - during an extremely hot NYC summer in 2013. We gathered a group of friends to visit Paul McCarthy’s quite disturbing summer installation at the Park Armory. It took me a while to connect with my art visiting partner. Only after a couple of minutes out, deciding where to find a comfortable place to eat and discuss what we saw, I could actually notice Eli’s allure. Not only his impacting gorgeous looks, but his voice and tone, including his laugh. It was a personification of colors. All about him represented bright, deep and cheerful colors.
I was lucky to keep having such “colorful moments” throughout the years in NYC and we started developing curiosity about each other. The bond we created turned out to be an interesting friendship and a constant flow of creative exchange. I mentioned a number of times I was interested in publishing a book about his work or something we could create together.
In 2016, when I decided I wanted to start FAMILIA editions - my own publishing label specialized in limited edition books of Brazilian artists - Eli was one of the first artists I had in mind for my new adventure. Starting a business on books and arts is risky and it takes passion and hope, since, unfortunately, this is not a field very known as being profitable. This is the reason why, for me, the goal of dreaming, developing and publishing artist books is to touch people. Arousing unexpected emotional reactions from an irrational feeling of proximity that only the arts can wake in people. It took me courage and time to build my dream and bring it to life.
In the beginning of 2018, I had the ultimate feeling that it was time to share my dreams with the world and to bring FAMILIA editions to life. I had experience in designing, editing and making books from the ideation process to the final product. However, I had no idea about how to start a publishing business. When I finally felt it was the moment to try, I knew who I wanted to start publishing. And I knew why. Two of my magical encounters would become books – the artist AVAF and the photographer Demian Jacob. In my next text, I will write about my relationship with Demian, but for now I would like to keep sharing the “colorful experience.”
Through the publishing of a book, I wanted to communicate the feeling I had when I first met Eli, the personification of colors. A book of words - his words - but mostly a book of colors and shapes that translated feelings. A book AVAF - the four letters stand for “ASSUME VIVID ASTRO FOCUS” - which is a group of visual and performance artists that Eli co-founded with the French artist Christophe Hamaide-Pierson amongst many other artists who have collaborated with them. A recurring practice throughout the collective's work has been a play on the “AVAF” acronym. These phrases are used as email signatures and also as titles for works and exhibitions. Phrases using the avaf acronym are either created by the artists or by people they know - often as a reaction to the email signatures. They have developed more than 800 definitions AVAF with the collaboration of friends and artists from different parts of the world. AVAF meanings break rules and cross borders.
For the typographical representation of these phrases, we chose to use AVAF's font, inspired by Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms” that were displayed on large public electronic signs in the 1980’s, specially her insertions on Times Square LED signs. They created an alphabet replicating the way the letters are displayed on LED signs and animated them according to that reference as well.
For this book, I first proposed what would be my interpretation of his work in an artist book as a media. A book that would be our work together in dialogue, not a book about his work. The idea was to play with the words shaping their meanings into diverse forms inspired by and making a tribute to brazilian concrete poetry - an important influence in the artist's work. I designed and played with many AVAF's in different languages and shapes. I imagined them printed in full color backgrounds. And I imagined we could also play with the option of having the same book in different color versions.
It was such a pleasant process. Eli is one of the most generous and joyful people I have met. He trusted me. He was completely open to my proposal and we bonded in colors, shapes, paper and binding. We decided Japanese Risograph printing would be the perfect technique to achieve the pure bright colors we would like to translate into the book. In addition to that, playing with those colored threads for a handsewn finish would give the book a unique and playful object value. The book is the translation of AVAF’s world through words, texture and colors.
Our book was just launched in AVAF’s exhibition “AQUELE VESTÍGIO ASSIM… FEÉRICO” at the gallery Casa Triângulo in São Paulo, Brazil. It is also on Viva Projects São Paulo AVAF show. People who attended the book launch at exhibition opening seemed to be delighted to play with the books. Bright orange, green, blue, pink and violet, lively colors that can touch people’s basic visual reaction. It goes beyond, evoking feelings that can sparkle joy the same way Eli’s colorful soul did to me that hot summer day in NYC.