BLANCO

Blanco

In 2005, Jean-Christophe Menu, the publisher of L’Association publishes a biting manifesto, Plates Bandes. In an attempt to insulate his own catalogue from the ‘sensibilities’ of the mainstream, Menu christens the term 48cc to describe the industrial national standard for Francobelgian comics, from its material properties (48 pages, hardcover). In offset printing jargon, a dummy is an unprinted book, which allows the publisher to test the finished object before its manufacture especially when a book goes out from conventional formats. My book Blanco, is an ode to standardization, 48cc dummy printed in 5000 copies and distributed in bookstores. By multiplying a publishing artifact, whose use is nulled by the popularity and ubiquity of its format, Blanco celebrates the signifying force of the industrialization of comics. 

 

Belgium: La Cinquième Couche | 48 pages | hardcover edition | 2019 | 210mm x 297mm | 

HARVESTED

Harvested

Harvested brings to the foreground five-hundred found artworks from households, studios, movie sets and other heterotopias of the adult films industry. More than two thousand adult movies were bulk harvested from p2p websites directly to a server location where they have been broken into thousands of low-quality JPG snapshots. The pool of images was submitted to crowdsourced services and a selected group of microworkers were assigned to filter them according to a consciously vague instruction: as to whether or not they displayed contemporary art. The anthology underlines the importance for a contextual, industry-specific art history, it posits by the same token, the need to activate peripheral vision in regard to scopophiliac practices. While IKEA paintings are pervasively dominant, one can find works from modern masters such as a rip-off from Fernand Leger, an unknown Joan Miro, Castle and Sun from Paul Klee but also contemporary works such as Quote, 1964, a print from Robert Rauschenberg, a series of paintings from Mark Rothko, School of Fontainebleau from Cy Twombly and even some replicas from Frank Stella and Lucio Fontana.

 

Harvested is a publishing coproduction from: MMMNNNRRRG (Portugal), Forlaens (Denmark), Hélice Hélas (Switzerland), Lendroit Editions (France), La Cinquieme Couche (Belgium), Topovoros (Greece), Fortepressa (Italy), Ediciones Valientes (Spain), Pachiclon (Mexico) and Bitterkomix (South Africa). 502 pages | hardcover edition CMYK (165mm x 150mm) | 2015 | 29 euros | SOLD OUT

METAKATZ

Metakatz

Katz had, by a simple and systematic operation, proposed a new interpretation and a rereading of Maus: all the heads of the different caracters had been replaced by cat’s heads. As Art Spiegelman had published MetaMaus, with a bonus DVD, to return to the genesis and the extensions of Maus, La 5e Couche returns to the genesis and the sequels of Katz by publishing MetaKatz, with a vinyl record as a bonus. Metakatz is the act which would constitute the “closure” of Katz. A closure, which would not be one, of an act which poses questions but which no longer exists and can no longer exist, Katz having been destroyed. It is a question of carrying out the theoretical and critical act, which will perpetuate these important questions, those which were explicitly posed and the others, as well on the legal level as artistic. Metakatz looks back on the history of copyright and its exceptions (parody, quote, pastiche), on the history of the art of diversion, collage and sampling (as old as art), and on the necessary changes in law and creation in the digital age. Artists, critics, lawyers, social scientists, destruction facility specialists and anonymous blog users were invited to contribute with their feedback and investigate other rip-off practices in comics, research the use of animal metaphors in storytelling or produce derivative works. Metakatz comes with a seven inch vinyl that documents the industrial destruction of the book Katz. Belgium: La Cinquieme Couche | 210 pages | hardcover edition | 200mm x 230mm | 2013 | SOLD OUT

RIKI FERMIER

Riki Fermier

Rasmus Klump is a comic strip series for children created in 1951 by Danish couple Carla and Vilhelm Hansen. The series was translated into a number of foreign languages – in French it has come out by the publisher Casterman, as Petzi. This very popular comic series for children tells the adventures of the bear cub Petzi and his friends: Pingo the penguin, Riki the pelican, L’Amiral the seal, among others. In my rip-off of Petzi Fermier, renamed Riki Fermier, I have obliterated all the agents of the story, except one. All bubbles have been redirected to Riki the Pelican, the only remaining character, which incidentally is the only animal in the original story that can be described as a filler. Alone, in a village Riki remains a passive witness to the reconstruction of an old farm. There are nor real absences only replacements, and Riki Fermier is a haunting reading experience. Following other well known works such as Georges Perec’s La Disparition, or Carmello Bene’s Romeo and Juliet, I have applied a lipogrammatic operation into an existing body of work in the form of a book. This first attempt helped me establish a very basic chart that would provide me with some ground rules for my next experiments: a) apply one and only one operation on the totality of the book, b) remain as close as possible to the original edition- don’t distract attention by changing the original form, with the risk of rendering significant details that can be purely formal, c) problematize and reactivate an element of the story or the book that is left unquestioned, or that serves a motivated suspension of disbelief during reading.

 

Belgium: La Cinquieme Couche | 27 pages | softcover edition | CMYK | 2015 | 220mm x 295mm | SOLD OUT

CASCAO

Cascao

Whitewashing is a casting practice in which white actors are cast in non-white roles. From Lawrence Olivier playing Othello to Burt Lancaster representing an Apache, film history is saturated with white performers in roles based on nonwhite persons or fictional characters. In comics, figures such as Yoko Tsuno, Zorino or Dragon Ball and other ethnically diverse identities are usually flattened on a supposedly neutral whiteness. Often carried out for the sake of a dubious narratological economy, the minimization of the roles played by these colored figures during cultural, historical or fictitious events, especially when they are crucial makes this practice a form of censorship. I whitewashed with bleach a magazine of Cascao, from the famous Brazilian entertainment empire Turma da Monica. This work has been developed during a residency in Brazil in 2017 and has been previously published in the collective anthology Baiacu in Sao Paulo.

Belgium: La Crypte Tonique | 36 pages | stitched magazine edition | CMYK | 2019 | 135mm x 170mm | SOLD OUT

LE COUP DE GRACE

Le Coup de Grâce

This the catalogue for the 2006 Quinzaine de Bande Dessinée collecting the works from a large number of comics artists directed by Xavier Lowenthal and myself. The anthology is introduced with the following proclamation: “We long for startling transitions, improbable links, new kinds of narrative associations. We find conventional narrative functions boring and stifling.” From the participation call, one can feel a glimpse towards a conceptual approach to comics. Thierry Groensteen decribes the anthology as following: On the publisher’s website the ambition that inspires the authors is described in ore detail: We aim to invent new proposals for narrative articulation between the images. These transitions will not be “functional” but will operate on a poetic, visual, and formal level through likeness of metaphor. Because meaning is not a matter of cause and effect leading up to narrative resolution. Because meaning does not lie in clarification.” These words summarize, in exemplary fashion, the historical situation as experienced by many young artists today. This conjuncture has produced heightened awareness that comic art is not ontologically destined only to perpetuate a canonical model dominated by the categories of narration and legibility, but that its spatio-topical apparatus for the display of images- lend themselves to the exploration of new forms, new configurations, new ambitions.

Belgium: La Cinquieme Couche | 144 pages | softcover edition | CMYK | 2006 | 240mm x 335mm | SOLD OUT

UN MONDE UN PEU MEILLEUR

Un Monde un peu Meilleur

Jean-Christophe Menu, in Plates Bandes. asked the question of the format as the most salient aspect of the French comic book industry. Menu christened the national industrial standard for comic books in the french-speaking market: 48CC, is the abbreviation for a forty-eight-page hardbound full-color printed album, whose predecessor can be found in children’s books from the 1950s and that has now been largely adopted by mainstream publishers Dupuis, Dargaud, Lombard and Casterman for their serialized narratives. In the center of the book standardization process in the publishing microcosm, Menu blamed the corporate ethos of publishers, and the retailers who did not have much use for L’Association’s extra-ordinary formats. The ubiquity of the 48CC format, and the various camp practices organized around its collections and discussions, could be seen as an impoverishment compared to previous publishing practices, where a multitude of different formats, layouts, technical features constituted a much more varied publishing landscape against the uniform landscape of a “monoculture”. It certainly functioned also as an insulation from the larger book industry where purposely comics in french are not described as books but as albums. The standardization of the comics album that took place in the 80s came, according to Menu, as a natural step of the withdrawal of the Author. Mainstream comics are no longer described so much as author productions but as situated in a constellation of descriptives and production categories, such as Genres, Heroes, Series and album Formats (Menu, 2005, p.18). Menu capitalizes all those terms, ironically conferring them equal value as the Author’s name. Nonetheless, his manifesto historicized the consolidation of the mainstream, as an important step towards the creation of the authorial ethos and the rediscovery of the avant-garde in comics, a term that might produce the counter-effect of further confining comics to the status of a paraliterary medium (Baetens, 2012), buffering any meaningful exchange with other book arts and publishing practices.

 

This is an unauthorized, literally “stretched” facsimile version of Levis Trondheim Un Monde Un Peu Meilleur. After becoming Chief Editor of legendary art comics publishing house L’Association, Trondheim’s publishes his commercial series under the new 48CC imprint as a way to deface his predecessor Jean-Christophe Menu, and to gentrify his polemical stance against the industrial formats in commercial comics. My pirate edition is a retaliation on the very same site of dispute, a monstrous mutation of the original book that contributes to bring to the question of format the sustained attention required from the entire community of comics artists: the format in comics as the medium’s main political mode of address.

 

Belgium: La Cinquieme Couche | 48 pages | hardcover edition | CMYK | 2020 | 290mm x 290mm | SOLD OUT

GLACIAL – ENTROPY

Glacial: Entropy EP

Glacial are the joint project of renowned Greek techno/house producer Giorgos Lemos -simply known as Lemos – and saxophonist / experimental artist Ilan Manouach. Their debut was a self-titled LP on the Hotel Costes series, released to critical acclaim in the beginning of 2012. Ricardo Villalobos called it “the album of his dreams” while the media described its’ abstract, minimal, dubby, jazzy electronic music as ‘hardcore lounge’, ‘elevator techno’. Entropy, almost three years after that, is Glacial’s return with a two-track EP on a 12’’ vinyl, taking a dancefloor-friendly turm. On side A we are greeted by the epic fifteen-minute-long dub techno monster of “Entropy”. Don’t let that sweet jazzy intro misguide you, as the track builds and builds to reach monstrous heights of energy, full of sub-basses and screaming horns, ideal for both peak-time or after-hours action. “Stoya” on Side B is deeper, moody and minimal with a great groovy loop. Jazzy elements all over set the tone and when the break comes, Ilan’s saxophone shines through like a blister in the sun. “Stoya” was recently included in Mary Ann Hobb’s playlist for BBC Radio. A side | Entropy | B side | Stoya 12” vinyl EP | 2015 6DOGS Records | SOLD OUT

GLACIAL – HOTEL COSTES

Glacial: Hotel Costes CD

Glacial are the joint project of renowned Greek techno/house producer Giorgos Lemos -simply known as Lemos – and saxophonist/experimental artist Ilan Manouach. Their debut was a self-titled LP on the Hotel Costes series, released to critical acclaim in the beginning of 2012. Ricardo Villalobos called it “the album of his dreams” while the media described its’ abstract, minimal, dubby, jazzy electronic music as ‘hardcore lounge’, ‘elevator techno’. 

CD | 2012 | SOLD OUT

BALINESE BEAST

Balinese Beast LP

Self-released in may 2011. 44 minutes of spurts coming from a hacked remote control. Nukie, a TV-addict. Offset Cover, 3 different B&W offset inlets, edition of 287. Mastered By Rashad Bekker.

 

Track listing: A side|Sai Sai Baba, Sunflower Milk, Judy’s Bounce, Oranges Apples, Sotos, Pepper Jiggy, Torrent Bust, Amy & Jordan. B side|Percussion & Knowledge, Omega Launch, Zeta Lunch, Beta Legs, Phily Pop, Bubble Lover. 12” vinyl LP | 2011 | BB Records | SOLD OUT