We never planned to go to the Frankfurt International Book Fair. It just happened that way. We were flying in and out of Frankfurt on Singapore Air (which is a great flight, by the way). While trying to book accommodations, I noticed that hotels were very expensive and almost completely sold out. I finally managed to find a hotel in Offenbach, a nearby suburb of Frankfurt. What was going on? We were flying in during the Frankfurt International Book Fair. We knew this fair was a big deal, but we had no idea. It draws almost 300,000 people, including over 12,000 accredited journalists. There has been a book fair in Frankfurt for over 500 years. The vast grounds of the fair stretches over 2 subway stops and contains about 9 mammoth convention-type buildings.
Hey, we're publishing some books, admittedly limited edition artist books with edition sizes of about 20 or so. Let's check out the book fair. Later, when I had to change our trip around, we were locked into the expensive hotel in Offenbach, so it was book fair, here we come. Found out the hotels triple and quadruple their rates during the book fair.
Our hotel turned out to be an impressive building, a former factory, beautifully remodelled. When I asked the man at the front desk what type of factory it used to be, he replied "A Slaughterhouse."
Frankfurt public transportation is impressive. Took the subway from Offenbach directly to the book fair, and I do mean directly. The subway exit and escalators went directly to the book fair entrance.
Many vendors have their booths set up as little cafes, where one can sit and have some refreshments, gratis. We didn't take advantage of this too often, feeling a bit too much like outsiders. This fair draws folks from all over the book world, making connections, wheeling and dealing, signing contracts.
One booth on a floor of probably 500 booths, no exaggeration, in a building of 5 floors, which was one of 9 or 10 buildings. The catalog for the fair was 3 inches thick with listings of the different vendors. It's book city.
Both Peter Koch and John Yau gave us names of friends to look up at the book fair. We were only able to find one of about 8 of them, and he, Despalles, was so busy that we didn't even greet him. The fair goes on for 5 days. One day was more than enough for us. 5 days must be exhausting.
By far most of the vendors handled new publications, but this is an example of one of the antiquarian books also for sale at the book fair.
That evening, following a recommendation from Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery, who we met at the aforementioned BayWolf Double Duck dinner, we dined at Goldman's, a restaurant located on the outskirts of Frankfurt, towards Offenbach. Very good food and wine.
With the US State Department issuing warnings about threats to Americans traveling in Europe from Islamic religious extremists, back home on our own soil we are experiencing attacks on our first amendment rights and violence by American religious extremists. Most of you have probably heard about the destruction of Enrique Chagoya's piece while on display at a museum in Loveland, Colorado. We copy below a letter from Enrique:
Sadly, today in the afternoon a woman armed with a crowbar attacked my book "The Misadventures of the romantic Cannibals" at the Loveland Art Museum, in Loveland, Colorado, and apparently broke the plexiglas box, took the book and tore it to pieces. Luckily the book is a multiple hand made lithograph and although there are only limited copies of the book it can be replaced by an equal print. The book is included in a group exhibition with the prints published by Shark's Ink (see sharksink.com)
I am worry that our first amendment rights are also attacked by the same crowbar. I am in shock, and fear for the personal security of the museum's staff, publisher, and myself since this has been an orchestrated attack by a national religious organization with fanatics everywhere.
There was a great article from this morning (Wednesday October 6) at the Huffington Post by Leanne Goebel that was the most balanced piece done so far. The rest of the media (with few other exceptions like A.P. which also has been balanced) has been demonizing the piece with complete fabrications and false descriptions. Just google it to read more about it (my name and Loveland) and check the Huffington Post article by Goebel. There is already some late news about the vandalizing, and by Thursday there will be more about it. As I said to the press, my book is a critique to institutional and spiritual corruption in religious organizations and not an attack on anybody's beliefs and opinions which I respect, and I been keeping my hope that people will respect mine (but clearly it has not been the case).
I don't take our rights for granted, and I will keep exercising my freedom of speech right by replacing the work with a similar copy in the show in spite of all this extreme reactions (and I hope the museum agrees).
Thank you all for your supportive e-mails. They are a relief in the middle of all the hate/racist e-mail I keep getting. Luckily I also got much support from artists, art professionals, and even a Pastor in Loveland who agrees with my explanation of my work who is inviting me to do a painting for his Church. There is hope.
And an excerpt from the George Adams Gallery in NYC:
According to Loveland Cultural Services director Susan Ison, the museum is being inundated with negative emails protesting the display of Enrique’s work. “The people who support the exhibition and support the museum are the ones who aren’t very vocal. It might be a call to attention for them.”
Please take a moment and send an email firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your support.
A STATEMENT BY ENRIQUE CHAGOYA ON THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS CODEX PROVIDED TO FOX NEWS ON OCTOBER 7, 2010
I feel sad that our First Amendment right was also attacked by the crowbar that destroyed my book. Should we as artists, or any free-thinking people, have to be subjected to fear of violent attacks for expressing our sincere concerns? I made a collage with a comic book and an illustration of a religious icon to express the corruption of something precious and spiritual. There is no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact shown in the image. There is a dressed woman, a religious icon's head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page. I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.
Institutions need to be criticized when they get corrupted. If people don't like my way of saying it, it is their right, just as it is my right, to express that. Violence is the opposite of what Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha taught. I am amazed that some of the followers don't adhere to the teachings. Agree to disagree and love thy neighbor. Only totalitarian societies are ruled by extreme rules. Do we want to live as if under Stalin or Hitler who censored not only the arts but all levels of thinking? This is America, but I don't take my rights for granted. I know they can easily be taken away by hate and extremism. Lets exchange ideas not insults, or labels. We all want this world to be a better place to live in, not a place where we live in fear of angry disagreements that will take us nowhere.
If you feel strongly about this, as we do, consider sending an email of support to Susan Ison, the Loveland Cultural Services director (see above).
Era and Don