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Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy


Art and Visual Culture


Migone, Christof


This dissertation is an exploration of artists’ book, artists’ publishing, distribution, and archival practices from a number of vantages in order to explore the activist possibilities of contemporary arts publishing. The concept of urgent artifacts, developed by publisher Paul Soulellis, reverberates throughout this research. The liveliness of this term is enhanced through applying additional modes of experience: clairvoyance, forensics, thinness, as well as their tricky interplay. In exploring what artists’ publishing might require for the present and the immediate future, this research-creation project considers the possibilities that clairvoyance—in particular, the figure of the medium—and archival intuition might offer. Borrowing from the activity of cartomancy, I suggest we lay out the playing cards and publications of Southern Ontario clairvoyant, Vera McNichol, to see what the clairvoyant can tell us about publishing. I also suggest we lay McNichol’s cards and self-published volumes alongside a number of other books—artists’ books, bookworks—and artistic publishing ventures in order to see how they communicate to the reader and with one another. The following research revisits specific artists’ publications from London, Ontario across different times to explore their shared concerns and shared insights. What might these publications tell us about the moments from which they emerged? What do they have to say to one another, and to us, about the present? And what might they augur, or engender, for the future? Amidst the juxtapositions and connections across the bookworks and publishing projects presented in this thesis, there is a recurring signal which takes the form of a consistent sense of urgency. Like the clairvoyant, these works suggest things to avoid and things to overcome. There are possible solutions, both for the present terrain of arts publishing and also for the overarching societal quandaries arts publishers continue to find themselves in. These solutions call out from the past. There are also predictions for the kinds of futures that might start to be generated now, in the immediate present, if certain actions are taken.

Summary for Lay Audience

Artists’ books, and the ways they are distributed in the world, are often experimental and highly responsive to the immediate present. Artist publishers who are currently active express societal concerns that echo the concerns that were voiced by their predecessors in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. This research considers the clairvoyant quality of artists’ publishing, and what the figure of the medium (who also happens to be a publisher) might offer for those artists who are publishing for the present and the future. A focus point within this research is Vera McNichol, a Southern Ontario clairvoyant and publisher, as well as a number of London-based artists’ publishing projects. Let’s make contact with them to see what they have to say to each other and to us.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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