Shadow Libraries: Ubuweb in Athens

A three-day festival at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens curated by Ilan Manouach & Kenneth Goldsmith. The program consisted of an exhibition, an educational program of four workshops and two symposia. In an age where public libraries are an endangered institution, UbuWeb and other collections run by amateur librarians emerge as new, vital topographies of sharing. This symposium and the related workshops explored the conceptual consistency and the ethics of digital preservation and distribution from the practitioners’ perspective. The invited guests unpacked the thingness of these fragile knowledge infrastructures and discussed how their architecture challenges current norms of intellectual property rights, market concentration and control of access.


Curated by:

Ilan Manouach & Kenneth Goldsmith

Guests: Dušan Barok (Monoskop), Vicki Bennett, David Desrimais, Craig Dworkin, Kenneth Goldsmith, Dina Kelberman, Marcell Mars (Public Library), Tom McCarthy, Steve McLaughlin, Emily Segal, Cornelia Sollfrank, Peter Sunde


Shadow Libraries

Authoring in the Digital Age


Large-scale digital preservation by Steve McLaughlin

Archiving in Style by David Desrimais

Exquisite Corpse by Vicki Bennett

RULES! by Dina Kelberman


a 24h video marathon

Mirror, an audio-visual performance by Vicki Bennett

The Ideal Lecture (In Memory of David Antin) by Kenneth Goldsmith

A Top Tens exhibition curated by Elpida Karamba


Futures of Comics

Futures of Comics is an international non-academic research programme 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. Through reading sessions, artist talks, various workshops open to the general public, a symposium and the production of a temporary library / reading space, Futures of Comics attempts to document and reflect on contemporary artistic practices with the goal to provide a resonating chamber for works and practices that are little known outside of comics communities. More information on the research programme part of the Fumetto Comics Festival of Luzern, curated by Ilan Manouach can be found on the website of Futures of Comics.


Conceptual Comics Archive

The last years, comics workers have been pushing the comics medium in uncharted territories. Originating from an international, highly diversified socio-demographic class of comics artists, collectives and publishing initiatives, contemporary comics are often situated far from the global epicenters of comic book production, and are located at the crossroads of different media, practices and sensibilities. The aforementioned vignettes are symptomatic of the political, social and aesthetic mutations that are currently shaping the comics industry. A polarity is presently developing between a given and conventional image of what is a comic and what comics artists and readers are supposed to be doing, and on the other hand, different conceptions that resist prevailing critical analysis and which I have loosely filed under the generic term conceptual comics.


In October 2020, I curated a selection of conceptual comics for the online media collections Ubuweb and Monoskop, popularly known as “shadow libraries”. In both Monoskop and Ubuweb, comics occupied a very marginal position and no systematic attempt has been made to form a comics archive. Nevertheless these relatively marginal forms of institutional memory are a productive context for marginal practices such as conceptual comics. These two conceptual comics collections feature books and other printed formats that were documented, and photographed from cover to cover, highlighting the artefacts materiality. Each book is presented along with metadata and a text from the publisher’s press release or a small critical introduction to the work written in order to provide background information for the necessities of the collection. The collection proposes to equally embrace the real, the unclaimed, the anticipated and the fictional practices in their perpetual materialisation. As a whole, it reflects on the specific sites of production and their potential to register meaning and organise discourse based on inscriptions of the industry’s material language. In an age where public libraries are an endangered institution, media collections run by amateur librarians emerge as new, vital topographies of sharing and a possible direction for an alternative of institutional reconfiguration in the comics industry.


Monoskop collection

Ubuweb collection


Topovoros Books

Topovoros is the translation of the neologism locavore, a term that describes a group of people who consume only locally grown food. Topovoros Books is a non-profit publishing initiative, whose structure follows, as its name suggests, the dynamics and ethics of the gastronomic category from which it is inspired: The books of the publications are products of a strictly local approach to the distribution of knowledge and ideas: they are designed, printed, bound and distributed exclusively within the 900 acres in the area of Exarcheia of Athens, Greece. Topovoros is a very small publisher, operating under no legal entity and mostly in a labor of love ethos. More precisely, it consists of a small team of avid readers that finance the book printing entirely on shared wallets and the books are sold through a website that only accepts cryptocurrencies. Topovoros Books is both a fragile and uniquely resilient small catalogue. It doesn’t have the financial gravitas as it operates in a marginal language market, but as an editorial structure it has been able to consolidate a sizeable community of thinkers in Greece. Its goal is to reflect on ideas that are not popular in Greek culture and to contribute to the fight against sexism, racism and anti-semitism but also to provide texts on radical urban movements as well as digital and network cultures. Some of the books are translations from Donna Haraway, Saidiya Hartman, Laboria Cuboniks, Hélène Cixous, Eyal Weizman, Craig Dworkin, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Guy Hocquenghem, Laurent de Sutter, Metahaven, McKenzie Wark et al.


More info at www.topovoros.gr