About Ilan

Ilan Manouach (Athens, 1980) is a musician, a book publisher and a multidisciplinary artist with a specific interest in conceptual and post-digital comics. He currently holds a PhD researcher position at the Aalto University in Helsinki (adv. Craig Dworkin) where he examines the intersections of contemporary comics, art and poetry. His work claims for the importance of comics as a materially self-reflexive medium, unaffiliated to any general art history. He has more than twenty published bookworks under his belt, solo exhibitions to important comics events worldwide. He is mostly known for Shapereader, a tactile system of communication for comics artists with visual disabilities. His work has been written about in Hyperallergic, New York Magazine, World Literature Today, Wired, Le Monde, The Comics Journal, du9, 50watts and Kenneth Goldsmith’s Wasting Time on the Internet and his works are also part of the Ubuweb online contemporary art archive.

He is the director of Futures of Comics, an international research program that explores how comics are undergoing historic mutations in the midst of increasingly financialized, globalized technological affordances and proposes to map the social, economic, racial and gendered forces that shape the industry’s commercial, communication and production routines. It took place in 2019 during the Fumetto Comics Festival.

He was the curator of the Festival Shadow Libraries: Ubuweb in Athens, that proposed to examine the uses of the archive in regards to artistic production and explore the conceptual consistency and the ethics of digital preservation and distribution in web libraries, through the lens of its users and makers. The festival consisted of two symposia, four workshops, an exhibition of media works and a 24h video programme and took place in the Onassis Cultural Centre in March 2018.

For a fuller documentation on the above projects the Brussels-based, non-profit Echo Chamber is responsible for producing, fundraising, documenting and archiving works of contemporary comics.


Since 2015, Ilan Manouach concentrates his practice around Shapereader. Shapereader is a forward answer to a lack of inclusivity regarding visual disabilities in comics. It is a system for tactile storytelling, initially designed for users with visual impairment. Shapereader is built on an ever-expanding repertoire of free-floating tactile ideograms (tactigrams) intended to provide haptic equivalents for all the semantic features, the conceptual functions and textual attributes of a narrative. Its design is based on criteria of simplicity, easiness of memorization and distinguishability. It addresses all users, regardless of their nationality, language, educational level, or subsistence under any visual handicap. By circumventing the verbovocovisual apparatus, it transposes semantic and syntactical structures cognizance to the reader’s fingertips. Shapereader promotes an embodied, non-retinal graphic experience in comics.

Its ongoing outreach plan for raising awareness has been unfolding in a variety of formats, contexts and collaborations: contemporary art shows in museums (MUSAC, Castilla), community workshops (Binyamin Gallery, Tel Aviv), artists talks (MIS, Sao Paulo) and literature fairs (Shapereader was the official representation of Belgium at the Frankfurter Buchmesse). Shapereader has been endorsed by disabilities rights organizations (NFB, Iiris Library) and universities (Disabilities Studies, University of Washington), and has been discussed in major international media outlets. It has been initially funded by the Kone Foundation in Helsinki through their Art and Multilingualism grant call, in 2013.  More information can be found on the project’s website.

book publishing

Topovoros (the translation of the neologism locavore describing a group of persons that only consumes locally produced food) is an non-profit hyperlocal initiative consisting of a limited print run book catalogue with a main interest in politics, urban space and radical movements. Eager to bring in Greece an eclectic array of important texts, Topovoros has released among others translations of works from Hito Steyerl, Helene Cixous, Craig Dworkin, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Donna Haraway, Eyal Weizman, Mike Davis, Valerie Solanas, the Black Panthers, Robert Smithson, Guy Hocquenghem. The structure of the company follows, as its name suggests, the dynamics and ethics of the organically and locally driven niche gastronomic category. The design, printing, binding and distribution of the books is done strictly within the precise geographical area, the 200 acres of the neighbourhood of Exarchia in Athens. Inkpress is another small publishing catalogue that specializes in translating, designing and distributing important works of the world literature of comics in Greek. Since six years now, it holds under its belt, books from Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Kaz, Debbie Drechsler, Ivan Brunetti, Gilbert Hernandez and Ben Katchor.