A two-part exhibition featuring artists' prints, ephemera, and accordion books from the extensive collections of artist and curator Stephen Perkins. Perkins describes his career as "resolutely underground, involved with alternative cultural initiatives: performance-related works, the zine and artzine underground, the international mail art network, politically engaged works, and a myriad of activities that operate outside the traditional gallery system." Over several decades of focused research, Perkins has developed a remarkable resource that he shares through exhibitions, self-published exhibition catalogues, blogs, and intimate pop-up gatherings.
Subspace Works will feature several large assemblages of artworks—photocopies, prints, drawings, postcards, and more—that were first presented at the small gallery Perkins curates in his Madison home. Artists represented range from internationally celebrated figures like Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, and Adrian Piper to less familiar names working across performance, mail art, comics, and zines. Their arrangement is idiosyncratic and non-linear, creating a rich web of associations and connections between the individual works. Through his curation process (in Perkins' words, “mining the archive") the assembled works are transformed into fascinating and coherent wholes.
Artists' Accordion Books, the second half of the exhibition, will focus on works by some of the most intriguing figures in contemporary art, like Kiki Smith, Kara Walker, Richard Long, Bea Nettles, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, and Anish Kapoor, among many others. Accordion books occupy a place somewhere between the scroll, the book, and the print, and are often self-published in very limited numbers. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to experience their visual power in person.
Image above: Sophie Smallhorn, A Book of Postcards, Circle Press, London, 1999; Richard Long, A Walk Past Standing Stones, Coracle Press for Anthony d'Offay, London 1980.
Subspace Works includes an installation of 14 needlepoint pieces by Perkins’s mother Anne, a trained artist who began stitching improvisational color studies in her 90s to endure the isolation of the COVID lockdown. She described this late-life project in an interview on WORT radio in March 2019: Nonagenarian COVID Diary Or How A 95 Year Survived The Lockdown
Images: Stephen Perkins: Anne Perkins:Needlepoints (2019-2022), 2023; Anne Perkins, Untitled, needlepoint, nd.