VA/BF Library & Archive: New Understandings of Space

by Sarah Davidson

The VA/BF Library is an accumulation of books, magazines, zines and printed ephemera that is temporarily mounted at Vancouver Art/Book Fair each year. For 2014, artist and writer Sarah Davidson curates its presentation. The Library houses publications that are donated to the VA/BF Library & Archive Project: Publishers may donate two copies of any title, with one copy going into an archive and the other being brought back to the fair each year. To submit your publications to the Library & Archive, please contact: [email protected].

In this year’s VA/BF Library collection I found common ground among diaristic photozines, journals of urban geography, magazines on improbable architecture and histories of public urination. Therefore, the theme of this year’s presentation of the VA/BF Library is New Understanding of Space. Look forward to a thematically appropriate reading room at VA/BF (spoiler alert: it may be housed in its very own architectural structure), and scroll down for a preview of some of the books I’ve selected.


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If It’s Still There When You Go Looking by Clinton Sleeper

A meditation on psychogeography that includes DIY instructions and photos of guerilla swingsets set up on billboards around Vancouver.


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Pissoir by Pablo Bronstein

An artist’s edition with essays and fanciful images illustrating the history of the public toilet.


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Milk and Water by Tatyana Palyga

Russian artist Tatyana Palyga juxtaposes a mundane conversation against a wandering photo essay through a city both familiar and strange.


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Prefix Photo, Improbable Architecture issue

An issue featuring photos of architecture that is both vernacular and fantastical, as well as content by Rodney Graham.


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Scapegoat, Mexica DF / NAFTA issue

A magazine that creates a fascinating portrait of urbanity, law/lawlessness and international politics in Mexico. Includes a great essay on the cultural significance of home ownership, with references to soap operas and Jenny Holzer.