Filiep Tacq is a graphic designer and has collaborated with the MACBA on several editorial projects, whether from Ghent, Madrid or Avellanedo (Picos de Europa).
My selection includes three books I designed for the MACBA and two that have fascinated me with their design:
A Theater without Theater was my first collaboration with the MACBA, a book that investigates the influence of theatre on the plastic arts in the 20th century. It is a very dense book with many historical documents and images, which can be read on various layers (and in different directions).
Through the Forest by Rodney Graham, a Canadian artist with whom I collaborated on various occasions in the 1990s, always working together with Belgian editor Yves Gevaert. The structure of this book is based on that published by Marcel Broodthaers (Catalogue-Catalogus) in 1974.
Poetry Brossa, a three-way project with the MACBA Publications team and curators Teresa Grandas and Pedro G. Romero. A journey through Brossa's plastic, poetic and performative work, with a daring navigation system – a glossary in the form of an alphabet – interrupted by three inserts with images on different paper.
Autofocus retina by Lothar Baumgarten, a journey that reviews key works by the German artist, who is very interested in the book as an object. But I also mention this in tribute to my teacher, Dutch designer Walter Nikkels, who collaborated on the design of all of Baumgarten’s books (Walter Nikkels was also responsible for the design of the book With a Probability of Being Seen. Dorothee and Konrad Fischer: Archives of an Attitude, published in 2010 by the MACBA).
Nitrate by Xavier Rivas is an artist's book that reveals itself slowly, a complex structure with a simple design that is not noisy, but that helps us navigate. In tribute to the Berenguer Brothers, the most interesting book designers I know of in Spain.
Marçal Folch is a photographer and member of the FotoGasull team, which collaborates with the MACBA on many of the photographic processes required for publications and the documentation of the archive of the MACBA Collection works:
I am choosing the following five publications as a good example of the work that, over years of collaboration, the MACBA represents for me and for my work at FotoGasull. The MACBA is a space in which mutual trust and the human factor are emphasised, and which has allowed us to interact closely with great professionals and artists. Constant reinvention, the pursuit of excellence and compulsory learning make photographic work a real challenge.
This shared journey encourages us to think that the best is yet to come!
Joe Portelli is Managing Director and founder of Bookport Associates Ltd. (Est. 1980), a Book Sales & Marketing agency specializing in the promotion, marketing, sales and distribution of international art books.
As a salesperson I have to look at this perspective from the sales point of view, and I have in mind the five titles which we sold well (and could have sold more if they were still in print). All these five titles contributed to convey the MACBA’s goal of encouraging art and in particular contemporary art.
The Passion According to Carol Rama: Carol Rama did not need any introduction; as an artist as she was very well known even before this exhibition and this catalogue. The book was not just a reflection of Carol’s vision of art, but also went in some way into the history of modern art and made it very interesting for contemporary art students and contemporary art lovers alike.
On the other hand, Akram Zaatari: Against Photography could not have come at a better moment since at the time of the exhibition the world was discovering the amount of interesting art in the Arab region. It was the time when art lovers worldwide were curious to know more of what was until then an unknown or unrecognised art world. This book combined some unknown values of what the Arab photographic world had in store.
Rosemarie Castoro. Focus at Infinity was the first publication to cover the 1964-1979 period of her works, and it was a mixture of various aspects of not just contemporary art but also social culture. This created interest for women in general and not just among artists, but also among minimalism lovers.
Jaume Plensa was a big surprise, as this artist, who might be considered a modern sculptor, did not just present sculpture in his exhibition and the catalogue, but went farther, showing the relationship between his thinking and his works of art and the world around us. Yet his modern innovative sculpture is what impresses me most.
Joan Jonas, the pioneer with artworks involving video and performing arts, added another touch to her curious installations. Reading the book created as much interest as the exhibition itself. What else can one ask for from such a world class artist?
Xavier Ribas is a photographer.
I have selected five books that are, in my opinion, representative of the MACBA's research activity into photographic, exhibition and editorial culture since it was opened in 1995. That date coincides with the beginnings of my professional photographic practice, so this is a personal selection, almost autobiographical, as the five books have been very present one way or another in the development of my photographic practice.
A book on theory:
Indiferencia y singularidad. La fotografía en el pensamiento artístico contemporáneo, edited by Glòria Picazo and Jorge Ribalta in 1997, translated a series of theoretical texts on photography as an artistic practice into Catalan (and Spanish) for the first time, in order for the museum to start a debate on contemporary photography that had already been taking place since the 1970s in other geographical contexts. More than twenty years after its publication, and between thirty and forty after the publication of the original texts, the contributions of Allan Sekula, Douglas Crimp and Christopher Phillips, for example, remain valid today and are considered references in contemporary academic and artistic debates on photography.
Two exhibition catalogues:
Barcelona 1978-1997, by Manolo Laguillo, published in 2007 on the occasion of his exhibition at the MACBA. For me, this is the best book by Laguillo and the one that best catalogues his documentary projects in Barcelona. Laguillo, despite having a very extensive work geographically, has maintained an exceptional aesthetic and conceptual continuity during his long career, so this book is indispensable to understand Barcelona’s urban evolution of the last forty years.
Autofocus retina, published on the occasion of the Lothar Baumgarten exhibition at the MACBA in 2008. I saw his work live for the first time at this exhibition. I was particularly impressed by the presentation of Carbon; the photographs, texts and wall graphics and, above all, the book that was shown on several display screens and tables in the museum's rooms. I have been buying Baumgarten publications over the years until I have practically all of them, from the most humble and simple, such as Tierra de los perros mudos (1985), to Carbon itself, perhaps the most complex and ambitious book of all. All his publications are exceptional, both for the concept and for the design partnership with Walter Nikkels. In Autofocus retina, for example, the texts are laid out with fonts that are different but so close that the reader will only realize it in the final credits.
Two historiographical research books:
Public Photographic Spaces. Propaganda Exhibitions, from ‘Pressa’ to ‘The Family of Man’, 1928-1955 (2009). Based on the seminal paper of Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “From Faktura to Factography” (1984), and in the context of the exhibition Universal Archive. The Condition of the Document and the Modern Photographic Utopia, curated by Jorge Ribalta at the MACBA in 2008, Ribalta makes a historiographical compilation of fifteen exhibitions of a propagandistic nature between 1928 and 1955, using primary and secondary sources. He highlights the intersection of photographic documents and propaganda technologies and contributes to the critical debate, initiated in the 1980s (with Krauss, Phillips, Buchloh, Sekula and Crimp), on the public visibility of photography in the discursive spaces of art and museums. Like other historiographical research by Ribalta, Public Photographic Spaces has become an indispensable reference book, especially for its English-language edition.
The book Centre Internacional de Fotografia Barcelona (1978-1983), by Jorge Ribalta and Cristina Zelich, published in 2012, is an unparalleled historiographical research book about the CIFB. Ribakta and Zelich carried out work that was almost archaeological, of recovery, or microhistoriographical – according to the authors' own words in the introduction – in which they collected and documented scattered graphic and photographic materials and conducted 23 interviews with individuals and photographers involved in or linked to the CIFB. It is a book totally necessary for understanding the photographic culture of a documentary nature, or of reporting, in the Barcelona of the years immediately after the dictatorship, and which gave rise to the first Photographic Spring in 1983.
Tenov (Joana Teixidor and Llorenç Bonet), publishers
It is difficult to select only five books out of everything the museum has published throughout all these years. We could follow a route that would align with our interest in architecture; a path that would allow us to explain its relationship with the museum: Sert. Architect in New York (1997), Nuevos paisajes. Nuevos territorios (1997), Fabrications (1998), Rutas metropolitanas por la Nueva Barcelona (2008) and Forensic Architecture (2017). Perhaps Matta-Clark, Laguillo, the Internacional Situacionista or even Siah Armajani should appear also; it would be a selection not so much of the books per se but of one of the art peripheries that the museum has hosted.
We have chosen to make a selection from the editor's point of view. The catalogue, as a format, no longer represents the need to catalogue and reproduce the images of an exhibition for all those who cannot go to the museum. Today, the format has become more sophisticated and is now being considered as an extension of the exhibition, often with the idea of being a stand-alone book. We especially value the projects in which content and form are related in a coherent way to build and transmit knowledge, where the combination of the textual narrative and visual elements makes the catalogue somewhat discursive. This is why they hold a privileged position in our library: A Theater without Theater (2007), Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. The Killing Machine y otras historias 1995-2007 (2007), Centre Internacional de Fotografia de Barcelona (1978-1983) (2012), The Passion According to Carol Rama (2014) and Xavier Ribas. Nitrate (2014).
Finally, we would also like to mention the Desacuerdos series or, as a publication strategy, the Quaderns portàtils. They are perhaps less colourful and may go unnoticed, but represent a contribution to the thought that we consider crucial in the museum’s editorial line.