Drucksache is a publishing house based in Stockholm, founded in 2010 by Jacob Grønbech Jensen, Rikard Heberling and Emi-Simone Zawall. So far they have published five works, focusing mainly on poetry, linguistics and artists’ books, all by contemporary Swedish writers, except for the most recent publication: the first Swedish translation of Martin Heidegger’s On the Way to Language. Drucksache releases not only printed editions but also deals with transforming these into various live activities such as performances, readings, lectures, seminars, screenings, opera, etc. At this year’s New York Art Book Fair Drucksache is a part of the joint exhibition/table Publishing as (part-time) Practice.
Above: 1) På Väg Mot Språket (On The Way To Language) by Martin Heidegger, Drucksache, 2012 2) Darger Reviderad by Leif Holmstrand & Jonas Örtemark, Drucksache, 2011 3) Fjärrskrift by Lotta Lotass, Drucksache, 2011 4) Detail from Röda Rummet (alfabetisk) by Pär Thörn, Drucksache, 2010 5) Public reading of Röda Rummet (alfabetisk) at Skånes Konstförening, 2010. Photo by Jonatan Jacobson.
What is the last book you read?
We’re still working on the classics… If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino, Revolutionary Letters by Diane di Prima, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger, L’immoraliste by André Gide are some of them.
What is the first book you can remember?
Mio, min Mio by Astrid Lindgren, Sagan om det röda äpplet by Jan Lööf, the Bible.
Can you recommend some recent publications to the reader?
1) ‘K by Karl Holmqvist (JRP Ringier) 2) Secrets of al-Jahizby Daniel Heller-Roazen (part of the 100 Notes, 100 Thoughts: Documenta 13 Series, Hatje Cantz) 3) Work, Work, Work – A Reader on Art and Labour(Iaspis/Sternberg) 4) Ulysses by James Joyce (retranslated into Swedish by Erik Andersson, Bonniers)
The books you’ve published are often with some form of appendix such as public performances, readings, films and even opera. What do you see out of the gesture of including these events or even using them as an essential part of the publication?
The social and communal aspect of publishing is really important to us. We put a lot of effort in transforming the printed material into something outside of the book object, to question the traditional role of the book as a media for isolated, quiet, linear reading. Often this results in some kind of performative remix of the text, where the book plays a specific, but secondary role. Essentially we don’t see our books as end products in themselves.
For example, our first publication, Röda Rummet (alfabetisk) by Swedish writer and artist Pär Thörn, is a remake of August Strindberg’s classic The Red Room. In Thörn’s version the word order is re-arranged alphabetically, but still within the structure of the original chapters. The book was presented in “mass-readings,” organized in three different cities during the time of the release, in which twenty-nine persons simultaneously read a chapter each, creating a beautifully chaotic sound piece. So in this case we treated the book partly as a music score intended to be read aloud in groups.
We also work closely with critics and theorists as means to integrate the book with its reception and critique. In Handlingarna (“The Acts“), a one-poem-book written by Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson, we invited author and critic Mara Lee to write a commentary that turned out to be almost more relevant to the publication than the actual poem itself – designed as a kind of intro-&-outro-duction, literally wrapping around the main text.
Can you tell a cautionary tale related to the design or production process of a particular book?
All our poor books have been more or less victims of production errors, going through the violent process of offset printing, not to mention shipping. On one hand there’s not much to say about this since it’s just how things are, errors and mistakes are part of all human activity, and as long as it’s only books that are harmed it’s not the end of the world. But on the other hand it’s interesting to see the connections between production faults and the ever-changing economic cirumstances of the industry. Most printers seem to be making money off pizza menus so that’s where priority goes, at least in Sweden. Errors and the general amount of poor quality will be constant in an industry with this high demand on fast delivery, cheap raw material and labour. So we don’t have a tale in particular but the whole biz of making books is inseparable from risk-taking and the consequential regrets and rewards.
Pick five books that would be friends.
1) Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu 2) Lars Norén, En dramatikers dagbok 3) Anders Jacobsson och Sören Olsson, Berts dagbok 4) Susan Sontag, Reborn: Early Diaries 1947-1963 5) Dieter Roth, notebook
Do you have a plan of publishing books in English in the future alongside the Swedish ones?
We don’t really have a plan of publishing in any particular language. If the material is relevant for us then we don’t care if it’s Swedish or English or anything else, as long as we’re capable of understanding what we’re editing. But since we’re quite drawn towards language-specific writing, when meaning is embedded in a certain framework, it’s just been interesting for us to work in a local context. That doesn’t mean we’re not open to other languages, quite the opposite, but so far our interests have been elsewhere.
Do you have any book-related rituals?
Sometimes we make pilgrimages across the world to attend book fairs.
You went to this year’s NY Art Book Fair as part of the participating publishers in the Publishing as (Part-time) Practice project, which selects some of the Swedish publishing houses run by graphic designers. Can you tell us something about this project?
“Publishing as (part-time) Practice” was a one-day seminar held in Stockholm in May earlier this year, initiated by graphic designers/publishers Matilda Plöjel (Sailor Press), and Mattias Jakobsson and Peter Ström (Konst & Teknik/Andperseand) and Iaspis (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee). The seminar brought together artist-run initiatives, both Swedish and international, in the fields of literature, photography and visual art as well as design, to share and discuss various approaches to publishing from a designer/artist’s point of view.
The project continues at the NYABF as an exhibition featuring twelve Swedish publishers who are, either partially or wholly, run by graphic designers: A5 Press, Andperseand, B-B-B-Books, GUN, Museum Paper, Nilleditions, Orosdi-Back, Oyster Press, Pionier Press, Sailor Press, Tree Fruit Press and ourselves.
Do you have any projects that you’d like to feature on our site?
Fjärrskrift is an artist’s book published in 2011 by Lotta Lotass. The work is a one-sentence poem without punctuation marks, printed on a 50 meter long telegraphy strip, or “ticker-tape” – paper surviving from the 1960s – using Telex machines from early 20th century. It was mass-produced in 100 copies, and packaged as a rolled-up scroll in a box.
Fjärrskrift was also presented as a one hour “movie” version, in which the complete poem was filmed as it was printed, and screened in cinemas around Sweden as a silent, collective reading – creating a rare situation in which a public reads the same poem together in silence, for about 60 minutes.
Now the filmed book is available online as a free, unlimited version of the limited scroll.
Describe an impossible book that you’d like to make (if you could do the impossible).
We’re currently trying to figure out how to make a book out of a tennis court.