Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, Vancouver Artist-Run Publishing

by Stéphane Bernard

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte is an independent writer, curator and performance artist based in Vancouver, where she completed her MFA at the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts in 2012. She has since been a sessional faculty member at Simon Fraser University, and recently curated the Spaces of Contestation / Collective Walks series of public actions and exhibitions that took place at UNIT/PITT Projects in 2013-2014. Other publications of note include a succinct bibliography of international artist-run culture, as published in Institutions by Artists, Volume 1 (2012), and the edition of Chroniques Lavalloises / Laval Chronicles (2012), as co-curated with Anne-Marie Proulx, for Verticale – centre d’artistes, QC. Bourcheix-Laporte will be participating in a panel discussion with Brynn McNab (UNIT/PITT Projects & ISSUE Magazine) and Jonathan Middleton (Or Gallery & Fillip), at the Vancouver Art/Book Fair on Saturday, October 5, 2014, at 1PM.

Project Space: To begin, I was wondering if you could tell us a bit about your recent publication history here in Vancouver?

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte: My first involvement with publishing in Vancouver came through my participation in the coordination team for the Institutions by Artists conference, which took place in the autumn of 2012. One of my roles was to conduct research into publications that relate thematically to self-organization, an artists’ relationship to labour or the history of international artist-run spaces. This work took the form of a bibliography that was later published by Fillip and it appears online as part of the PAARC (Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres) website.

I later wrote an article for Decoy Magazine, in the spring of 2013, that was a critical essay looking at an exhibition presented at the Or Gallery. And I’m currently working on a series of four separate publications that are the final leg of the project presented at UNIT/PITT Projects, which will be printed in large part by Publication Studio Vancouver.

PS: Is Decoy Magazine, then, a publication produced by an artist-run centre here in Vancouver?

MB: The website was founded and is edited by Lauren Marsden, with the intent of featuring art criticism and critical writing in Vancouver and—at the time—there was an events listing as well. But since then, the site has been revamped to feature artist portfolios, which are presented in partnership with the Balcone Art Society.

For this particular project, Decoy is now being used as a curatorial platform meant to showcase online exhibitions accompanied by critical writing. Curators are asked to select three artists to produce online portfolios, which are then supplemented with writing on their work. The present set of portfolios has been curated by Bopha Chhay, and I will be contributing a selection in the fall.

PS: Is there any difference between writing for an online publication rather than for a print edition?

MBL: There is, although much of it is similar. I think that writing for an online magazine offers more flexibility as far as deadlines are concerned. You can change things up to the last minute, and even once things are published, it is very easy to go in and change something—like a typo for instance. The timeline for a print publisher, on the other hand, is more involved, seeing as you have to submit drafts and corrections months in advance.

In terms of the content, things are not that different. Print publications can be more archival, in the sense that reviews will tend to cover exhibitions that were presented sometimes months prior to publication. Whereas online magazines can be more about sharing an experience, so the tone can be more informal, or they can review an exhibit while it is still happening, which creates a real-time dialogue about the issues being touched upon in the show.

PS: Are these some of the questions you will be discussing during the panel with Brynn McNab and Jonathan Middleton?

MB: The main ideas I’m hoping to discuss are related to the research I recently conducted for ARCA (Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference). I am presently looking into the evolution of funding for artist-run centres’ publishing activities by the Canada Council, so I will be reviewing the findings from the early phases of this research, which indicates that funding is somewhat inadequate or inaccessible.

The purpose is to generate a conversation around the possible development of new opportunities for distribution or an increase in operating funds to permit a continued publication output from centres as visual arts publishing is a thriving activity.

ARCA has also commissioned me to put together a selection of thematically related publications that either define a region of Canadian artist-run culture, feature an original artistic practice or simply present key texts that have been produced in the more-or-less recent past. So I’ll be touching on that as well.

PS: Are these publications usually hard to find here in Vancouver? And how will they be presented at the Fair?

MB: Yes, that’s the idea. We’re not looking to create competition with other participants of the VA/BF by having similar texts, so we want to feature publications that originate throughout the artist-run network and that are not readily available here on the West Coast. The books will be available for sale at a table held by RCAAQ’s (Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec) bookstore, Formats; and there should be a few out-of-print texts that will be available for consultation as well.

Images: Texts by Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte; Book jacket illustrations and design by their respective authors/publishers; Scans/GIF by Stéphane Bernard