It’s the publishers of these art books who want to convey what the artists say

The fourth edition of the In Print art book exhibition opened Wednesday at Hansen House, Jerusalem, celebrating the fusion of text and art in book form. It will end on Friday.

Among the dozens of exhibitors is Ian Sternthal from Sternthal Books, a local art book publisher that uses print, film and digital media and usually exhibits his works at European book fairs.

Sternthal explains that although he usually attends events overseas, he remains an early fan of the In Print exhibition, which was started by two Israeli Americans, Jenna Romano and Danielle Gorodenzik. He welcomed their entry into the Israeli art scene, which formed a close-knit community.

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“This is a world dominated by big players and big money, and this show Jenna and Danielle created resonates strongly with what I have been through myself,” he says. “I’ve always been a bit on the sidelines and that explains why I took my place in a landscape dominated by far more important institutions.”

Israel’s art book world must think about change, Sternthal said. First of all, he regretted that the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Israel Museum did not distribute publishers’ books in their shops.

“There are a lot of things I would expect to see change here. It’s like the world of politics,” said Sternthal. “There are very strong actors who tend to dominate, to privilege their image. But the number of people working with few resources, the number of incredible artists and the scope of their activities is truly extraordinary.”

Art book publisher Ian Sternthal at the In Print art book exhibition at the Hansen House, Jerusalem, January 11-13, 2023. (Courtesy James Andrew Rosen)

He is very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​collaborating with artists. Many people often assume that publishing a book only requires getting it printed, but the process of publishing “only marks the beginning of a book,” he says. “My role is to reflect on how to communicate about the complex processes that artists go through and which we often don’t think about.”

Sternthal, originally from Montreal, Canada, got into the world of art book publishing through a book he began writing as a graduate student, after spending time in Israel. He compared some of his own experiences “as a gay kid growing up in Montreal” to Theodor Herzl and his book “Altneuland: Old Land, New Land” written by the founder of modern political Zionism when he felt he was not being taken seriously. .

And while Sternthal’s first work was ultimately never published, he was thus able to enter the circle of several dozen Israeli artists who all had their own ideas about different art books.

He then turned Sternthal Books into a niche publisher using print, video, digital and virtual culture media in Israel, with a focus on life in the Jewish state. For every art book published, he also makes a film. He has published 30 books so far.

“There are no original art book publishers here, so there is a market opportunity,” says Sternthal.

While art books are by definition niche, promoting the work of an artist and usually published in small print, they are more relevant than ever, notes Sternthal.

The world of publishing has also changed, he said, with advances in technology that have made it easier to produce books with a limited number of prints.

“As we live in a world that is more digital than ever before, books are even more relevant,” he said. “The experience of the whole screen, the fact of not having very shallow encounters with lots of different things… Holding a book in your hands is something very special”.

Art books are not a lucrative industry, adds Sternthal, but “people should be able to tell stories about themselves.”

The In Print art book exhibition will be found Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and in the late afternoon and Friday morning, with book launches, award ceremonies and debates. For more information, visit the In Print website.

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