Other Books and So

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Other Books and So was a pioneering artist-run bookstore and gallery founded by Ulises Carrión in Amsterdam from 1975-1979. Other Books and So was the first bookstore dedicated specifically to artists' publications: visitors to the shop could browse a selection of artists' books, magazines, postcards, sound works, and multiples produced by experimental artists and writers from around the globe. Over its four-year run, Other Books and So held over 50 exhibitions, including solo exhibitions by Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, Dorothy Iannone, and Jiri Valoch and group exhibitions on artists' books, mail art, and sound poetry and related practices.[1]

Following the closing of the artist-run space In-Out Center, Carrión opened Other Books and So in a small, basement-level storefront at 227 Herengracht in Amsterdam. A postcard announcing the opening of the shop described it as "a space for the exhibition and distribution of "other books, non books, anti books, pseudo books, quasi books, concrete books, conceptual books, structural books, project books, plain books." [2] Carrión's playful list of the shop's contents emphasizes that his interest was not necessarily in art or in books by artists, but rather in unconventional experiments with the book form originating from a variety of disciplines. In 1977, the shop moved to a slightly larger space at 259 Herengracht. Programming at Other Books and So's new location emphasized Carrión's deepening involvement in Mail art: many exhibitions were devoted to mail art, and the shop published the 12-issue mail art periodical Ephemera, edited by Carrión, Aart van Barneveld, and Salvador Flores. Due primarily to financial difficulties, Other Books and So closed in 1979. Carrión maintained his collection of artists' publications, mail art, and ephemera as the Other Books and So Archive, housed at 121 Bloemgracht in Amsterdam until his death in 1989.

Carrión conceived of Other Books and So not as a commercial enterprise, but as an artwork in itself; as he stated, "Where does the border lie between an artist's work and the actual organization and distribution of the work?" [3] As reflected in this sentiment, Other Books and So was part of a growing number of artist-run initiatives in the 1970s. Despite its short run, it served as a key meeting place for international alternative artists' networks and as a reference for later generations of artist publishers.

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  1. Dear Reader. Don't Read, ed. Guy Schraenen, Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2016, 272 pp. With CD, p. 184.
  2. Other Books and So postcard, no date. via http://www.museoreinasofia.es/sites/default/files/styles/ficha_actividad_exposicion/public/actividades/_s4a0070_g_0.jpg?itok=f64WiFAN
  3. Ulises Carrión, "Personal Worlds or Cultural Strategies?" in Second Thoughts, Amsterdam: VOID, 1980, 72 pp. Collection of 8 essays, p. 53.