Literature Parties

Still Hungry for Print After the NY Art Book Fair? Here Are the Best Small Presses To Follow Year-Round

In the digital era, print media has become more than the sum of its pages. Last weekend, devotees of the increasingly-antiquated format gathered to celebrate the small presses rallying to keep it alive at Printed Matter’s annual New York Art Book Fair. In between DJ sets, workshops, and live wrestling, participants preached the continued need for offline ephemera.

The proliferation and dissemination of these artist objects has been the mission of nonprofit Printed Matter since its founding in 1976. The NY Art Book Fair became a popular offshoot of that aim when it first opened in 2006, followed by the LA Art Book Fair in 2013. Eighteen years later, the fair is a staple of the art world’s calendar, pulling in galleries like Hauser & Wirth and artists including Tammy Nguyen as participants and collaborators.

The particularly bustling weekend was capped off with the second annual Block Party: a day of music, food, and this year, a wrestling match to celebrate the release of Orange Crush’s wrestling photography book Visitors, created with artist Nick Karp. Even still, the hunger for the printed word has not completely subsided. To that end, CULTURED assembled a list of the buzziest booths at the fair, stocked with small presses producing high-quality releases all year round.

All images courtesy of the presses and Printed Matter.

Passenger Pigeon Press

Passenger Pigeon Press, founded by artist Tammy Nguyen, is in the “pursuit of nuance” through a series of initiatives. There is Martha’s Quarterly, a subscription service for artists’ books; Collaborations, which partners with artists and thinkers to explore lesser-known topics; and Public Domain, which utilizes works in public archives around the globe to address current issues. At the fair, Passenger Pigeon Press had Atomic Terrain: How to Make a Bomb on its table, a “geopolitical gardening project … that uses a rare species of rose, the Rosa floribunda ‘Atom Bomb’ rose, to examine the structural connections between horticulture, state power, and nuclear colonialism.”


The Fulcrum Press

The Fulcrum Press table was, predictably, covered in photo books. The press, founded in Los Angeles in 2014, is committed to expanding the boundaries of photography, shown through its far-reaching publications and programming at its brick-and-mortar outpost. In New York, the press brought along artist Phil Chang to showcase his “Unfixed” series at their table. Over at the LA space, the press regularly hosts exhibitions and lectures for the West Coast community.


bierke books

Pippa Garner is taking over New York. The artist’s publication Act Like You Know Me served as the centerpiece of bierke books’s fair presentation. Just a few blocks away, her drawings are on view at the Whitney Biennial. Publisher Bierke Verlad traveled all the way to the fair from a Berlin homebase, a testament to the international appeal of the out-of-left-field artist. Outside of its collaboration with Garner, the press regularly releases tomes in the genres of art, architecture, design, and theory.


dmp editions

Small press dmp editions was founded by artists Shauba Chang and didi, who live and work “between Taipei and the Internet.” The pair—Chang being a human and didi a cat—regularly collaborate with curators, editors, and artists to create one-of-a-kind publications. At the fair, Chang debuted Petrichor, “a love letter written by the author to an unnamed recipient, about some distant, surreal moments.” Didi, on the other hand, continued her interrogation of the relationship between indoor spaces and the body with I’m Your Vessel and You’re Mine.


Irrelevant Press

Zine collective Irrelevant Press was founded in 2014 between Oakland, Brooklyn, and anywhere with Internet access. The group publishes a broad range of works, many by first-time zine-makers, but has a special focus on collaborations with local activists and groups. The highlight of its NY Art Book Fair booth was How Can we Regain Trust in the Internet? by Emily Chao, an investigation into the ways that social media companies like Meta and X “situate themselves in the segmentation and division of both online discourse and labor.”

Fugitive Materials

This independent press specializes in “the material cultures of resistance.” Fugitive Materials’s mission is more closely tied to the political reality of printed matter than most. Its aim is to preserve lesser-known and radical histories in a world where much of our art and information is stored in archives that can be deleted with the click of a button. At the fair, the press presented a collection of rare queer books and prints, including a poster bearing the iconic activist slogan “Silence = Death.”



Bilna’es translates to “in the negative,” but the label has been a positive force for artists in need of a network that will allow them to continue creating. The Palestinian group—founded by Ruanne Abou-Rahme & Basel Abbas, Muqata’a, and other anonymous figures—produces music, digital projects, publications, performances, exhibitions, and is still looking to expand. Central to Bilna’es’s fair booth was Under the glare of the moon: Aesthetic Lineages of Revolt by Adam HajYahia, with artwork from Haitham Haddad. The publication looks at how the protests and other activations from Palenstinians have “been producing a revolutionary language and practice that is consistent and innovative, formulated within a persistent tradition of the oppressed.”

Water With Water

All the way from Doha, Qatar, Water With Water (W/W/W) takes a look at the growing artistic output of the Gulf. The project was started by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar Associate Professor Nathan Ross Davis in 2015, with the help of design educator and artist Sarah Elawad. At the fair, the press offered up The Gulf Between Us Vol. 4, the fourth edition of its open-call photo zine, curated by Sherifa Eletrebi, featuring imagery from creatives in and around Qatar.


Revista Balam

Photography magazine Balam is going up against the hegemony. The Buenos Aires-based publication uses contemporary photography to explore the lived reality of minorities and other communities living on the margins. In addition to stocking its latest issues at the fair, the group also created a window installation at Printed Matter’s flagship. The project, titled “0800-REBELDÍA-GAY,” evokes Latin America’s well-known "papelitos de oferta sexual,” flyers papered around cities offering sex work, most often from members of the queer community.