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Posts tagged as “x artists’ books”

Revealing The Fringes Of Paris: Benoît Fougeirol’s Award Winning Book Zus

Special To Topanga Journal

The photographer of the award winning book Zus is Benoît Fougeirol. He is based in and around Paris. Zus was published by X Artists’ Books. The publishing company is a collaboration between actor and writer Keanu Reeves, Los Angeles-based artist and writer Alexandra Grant, designer Jessica Fleischmann and editor Florence Grant. X Artists’ Books is an independent publisher, versus a self publisher, or vanity press. The books coming out of this little press are of value and on engaging subjects.

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Zus documents, via a sociological photographic essay, sensitive suburban zones, or ZUS, a French acronym for Les Zone urbaine sensible. These forgotten pockets are located on the peripheries of the major metropolis of Paris, France. The ZUS are documented on the book’s cover by what appear to be mere confetti dots. These fringe districts were defined by administrative boundaries brought about by the “emergence of a social problem,” reports X Artists’ Books.

Fougeirol’s. “realistic approach allowed the viewer to explore these territories…through his photographs without a judgmental, hierarchical or authoritarian point of view.”   ADAGP Jury

With the help of security, Fougeirol photographed these marginalized areas sometimes in wide aerial shots showing what appear to be successful housing zones and in other shots close details depicting the decay and frailty of the projects’ failures. The honest and shocking photos are of walled in housing units that seem to be of buildings that were previously architecturally beautiful. Once beyond the walls, we see doors with faded paint that appear permanently jarred open. Tastefully designed staircases are fenced in with wired gates. In another disconcerting visual, the ZUS are laid out like war zone maps inside the book. The photos portray an innate sadness, a sense society is tearing a certain segment of people apart from the main group and setting them into a fringe society. Zus is a photojournalistic investigation into these areas that makes the viewer wince, if you care at all about people.

According to writer and professor Jean-Christophe Bailly, whose essay accompanies Fougeirol’s images: “We [were] not expecting so much immobility, or such ruins. Strangely, and as if by a flourish of tragic irony, this emptiness of space brings to mind the Ideal City in Urbino. There, too, the anonymous painter omitted all human figures. But where the imaginary scene from the Quattrocento was offered as the theatre of an existence yet to come, the images of the real city, the images of the ZUS, come across as decaying segments of a bygone existence: ‘people lived here.'”

Zus was nominated for the 2018 Les Prix du Livre at Arles. Zus recently won the Third Edition of the 2018 ADAGP Revelation Artists Book Award. This was part of MAD (Multiple Art Days), France’s national association of graphic and fine artists (Société des Auteurs dans les Arts graphiques et plastiques). June marked the month where 20 artists’ books were selected for consideration for the ADAGP Revelation Artists’ Book Award, which would also be exhibited during the fair. It was announced September 13 that Fougeirol had won the ADAGP Revelation Artists Book Award. 

The ADAGP jury stated Zus had, “renewed the approach to how the [Parisian] banlieues are represented.” The jury also stated Fougeirol’s. “realistic approach allowed the viewer to explore these territories…through his photographs without a judgmental, hierarchical or authoritarian point of view. The open configuration of the edition itself is free to be explored and leads to a sense of discovery of places so radically determined by their architecture they are almost impossible to access in real life. (Zus) is an edition to read, to leaf through, to unfold, to display, in short, to discover even while it captures the volatility of the ZUS.” 

The limited edition of Zus is in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Bibliothèque d’Art et d’Archéologie, Genève. The limited edition sold for $900 each, and as of the writing of this article is sold out. 

The paperback edition of Zus is 9 ½ × 12 inches and 375 pages. It can be purchased from X Artist’ Books for $60.


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Art Is Dangerous In The Artists’ Prison From X Artists Books

Special To Topanga Journal

The cover is simple, unassuming, even inviting. You open the first page to redacted information, like classified materials seen in the military. For Eyes Only. It’s a dedication page that’s been redacted. It states “For” and there’s a big blotch where a name should be. A name wiped out. The reader will never know the name that black spot belonged to. Knowledge is both a privilege and offense in this book, and so is art. Creative expression is temporary, something Big Brother gives and takes away. The warden controls your art. The warden even tells you your prison cell can only have certain forms of expression because you are dangerous if you express yourself in any other manner. 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

This is the The Artists’ Prison, with text by Alexandra Grant and drawings by Eve Wood. Grant created an Orwellian world where creativity can be a criminal offense and art making a punishment.

Topanga Journal conducted a Q&A with the artist, Eve Wood, who completed  the graphics in The Artists’ Prison to find out her driving need to be a part of the book and such a dark world.


TJ: What drove you to be a part of this particular book?

WOOD: I approached Alexandra Grant several years ago and asked her over for a studio visit. During the visit I suggested we do a collaboration and asked if this was of interest to her. She responded resoundingly saying she had a project, a book she had written, sitting in a desk drawer and perhaps I could give it a read through and see what i thought of it. The text is disarmingly dark and seductive, and given that my life at that time was also strangely unsettling, I felt an instant connection with the work.

More and more I feel that art IS a near criminal offense, especially in light of the oppressive, censorial political climate we currently live in, so the material felt somehow necessary and vital,” said Wood.

TJ: What made you create, in collaboration with Grant, such a dark world where art is a criminal offense?

WOOD: More and more I feel that art IS a near criminal offense, especially in light of the oppressive, censorial political climate we currently live in, so the material felt somehow necessary and vital. Artists have, historically, operated outside societal structures, which gives them the unique ability to then reflect honesty on what they see and experience. The darkness in this book feels no more or less threatening and heartbreaking than the world I see around me every day.


TJ: How did you meet Alexandra Grant?

WOOD: I met Alexandra Grant fifteen years ago when a friend recommended her to me for a show I was curating at Cirrus Gallery.


TJ: How did you come up with the ideas for each character, like the water artist, the blind draughtsman and the fire artist?

WOOD: Well obviously the titles she provided were a starting point, but beyond that, I tried NOT to create literal responses to the text, but more metaphorical, associative responses, so for example with The Fire Artist we see an eye on fire. It’s rather self-reflexive. As a viewer you are looking at the page, just as I looked and considered Grant’s words, yet the eye is looking out from the page even as it is being consumed from within


TJ: How long did it take you to create this work?

WOOD: It took me six months to make all the drawings.


The Artists’ Prison is 157 pages of dark expression where the reader is left on the last page with a paragraph titled End Of Day. Even at the end when the reader found a brief release, the writer once again drew her audience back in again into the prison cell of creative control and punishment. The writer left her audience feeling something of a paradox or labyrinth.The maze of utterly angering rules in this prison world never stopped. The redactions never stop. Even at the end the character’s name is wiped off the page. In this world, the audience understands life is precious. You could become a blotch on the page if Big Brother so deemed.


The Artists’ Prison is available for purchase for $35 from X Artists Books here:

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Sylvan Oswald Performs High Winds, From X Artists’ Books

Sylvan Oswald Performs High Winds, by X ARtists' Books | Photo By Kriss Perras

Sylvan Oswald knows the value of silence during a poetic performance. And how to draw the listener in through a rapid fire series of words that create a dream experience. His co-star on stage, Jerome Ellis, created sounds electronically and by blowing air into his saxophone that at times sounded like wind blowing across a deserted western landscape. Jessica Fleischmann’s artwork displayed on a screen behind the performers helped create the world in which High Winds lives.

High Winds is a trans man who cannot fall asleep and instead goes on a search for his half-brother. The setting is desert landscapes depicted by Fleischmann’s artwork, Ellis’ sounds and Oswald’s words, all of which create a hallucinatory world…(Read More on Magzter

This is premium content. You can purchase our October 20, 2017 digital issue of Malibu Arts Journal on Magzter for $4.99 here:

Who Is The Independent Press X Artists’ Books?

X Artists' Books Logo

Who is this independent press that’s just come out with a few compelling books, called X Artists’ Books? The name seems purposefully opaque. One of the co-founders is known to “fly under the radar,” which is cool. So are their books. This little independent press interested us for that very reason. We’re independent too. So we have a heart for the independent, the different, the unique, the elegant and even the vulgar.

X Artists Books is co-founded in a collaborative effort by Artist Alexandra Grant, actor and writer Keanu Reeves, designer Jessica Fleischmann, and editor Florence Grant. This press plans four releases this year. The Artists’ Prison , High Winds, The Words Of Others and Zus…(Read More In Our October 20, 2017 Digital Issue on Magzter here:

This is premium content. You can purchase the October 20, 2017 digital issue of Malibu Arts Journal on Magzter for $4.99 here:

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