The Fowler Museum at UCLA presents a dynamic installation of risograph prints based on the books of Gato Negro Ediciones, a Mexico City-based independent press led by activist designer León Muñoz Santini.
Building on the legacy of radical independent publishing in Mexico, Gato Negro produces original titles across genres of photography, poetry, and political discourse — and has re-published classic texts of resistance. Founded in 2013, their focused program of limited-run risograph editions is recognized as an internationally relevant voice in art-book publishing. “South of No North: Gato Negro Ediciones” is Gato Negro’s first museum exhibition in the United States and will be on display in the museum’s Goldenberg Galleria until December 9, 2018.
Risograph printing uses an automated stencil duplication process similar to silkscreening. Quick and inexpensive, the technology uses real ink to produce crisp images with a handmade quality. For this exhibition, Gato Negro produced a custom set of billboard-size multiples based on the contents of six books, including the premier of a collaboration with Zoe Leonard titled “The River,” 2018.
The expansive installation registers the urgency of Santini’s signature format: single-subject compendia presented in a fixed, serial layout, often without text. Full-bleed images, restrained typography, and a predominantly black and white palette on recycled gray paper drive attention to the unrelenting graphic evidence that structures the form of each book. One wall will include the complete archive of titles printed to date, 114 books.
“South of No North” borrows the title of a short story collection by late Los Angeles-based writer Charles Bukowski, who self-published as part of the “Mimeograph Revolution” during the 1960s and 70s. In its exhibition context, the title serves to amplify ideas of geographic dislocation and the active erasure of people living along the border of the Rio Grande River — central concerns of Gato Negro’s program.
“Gato Negro’s project represents a broader story of artistic exchange happening between Mexico and the United States,” said Sebastian Clough, exhibition curator. “Artists are starting conversations about ideas not tied to format or funding or status — really the opposite of market-aware art. In this case, Gato Negro has forged an impressive collection of cross-border collaborations with poets, writers, and photographers — artists whose desire to communicate saturates and propels the projects forward.”
About Gato Negro Ediciones
Santini, who is publisher and creative director of Gato Negro Ediciones, has established a unique voice in Mexico City and increasingly within Asian, European and U.S. spheres of design influence. Studio production is equally driven by Santini’s solo projects (like "Satán," on view in the exhibition) and close collaborations with such artists as Leonard, photographer Nirvana Paz, and poet Dani Zelko. The economy of risograph printing allows the studio to publish small runs, and publish often. A conscious move to forego ISBN numbers sidesteps commercial circulation, and Santini travels often to participate in book fairs, speak with readers, and engage audiences about his publications and processes.
“South of No North: Gato Negro Ediciones” is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and is curated by Sebastian Clough, director of exhibitions.
Friday Aug. 3, noon
Culture Fix: Sebastian Clough on Gato Negro Ediciones
Clough discusses the design process involved in transforming an art publisher’s body of work into a visual exhibition.
About the Fowler Museum
The Fowler Museum at UCLA explores global arts and cultures with an emphasis on works from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas — past and present. The Fowler enhances understanding of world cultures through dynamic exhibitions, publications and public programs, informed by interdisciplinary approaches and the perspectives of the cultures represented. Also featured is the work of international contemporary artists, presented within the complex frameworks of politics, culture and social action.