The Concept

(Who Nevertheless Should Be Known,
or maybe not …)

After the worldwide acclaimed success of the Compendium Finale of Contemporary Jewellers, a typical Darling Publications Opus Maximus in dimensions, weight and contents, unseen till its publication in 2009, the ever since raising requests and demands to present different themes in this amazing concept and spectacular showpiece of the art of bookbinding seem not to decrease, but to increase as time passes.

Spectacular in many ways, breaking world records in a row like presenting 1044 Contemporary Jewellers in one (admittedly thick) book, everybody selected by colleague artists instead of a single curator, each selected artist serving simultaneously as a curator himself, leading to a totally unpredictable group of creative minds in a book with 2400 pages in 2 volumes, 13,5 kilos, hand bound in an edition of 1500 copies (which took 9 months to finish!) and caused a flow of ca. 24000 emails through the communication medium also better known as the internet.

For those who have seen and experienced the Compendium Finale of 2009, any further explanation is no more needed, for those others, curious to have a more personal life-experience themselves, 1044 examples in 54 countries are available in artists ateliers, and about 400 in galleries, libraries, museums or at collectors´ homes.

To fulfill the vast amount of understandable requests for a follow-up of this amazing publication, released in 2009, it is a great pleasure for Darling Publications to announce a new exciting project.
Darling Publications would not be Darling Publications if not another highly interesting and intriguing subject of world wide discussion is the actual „Object du Désir“:

The Unknown Contemporary Artists.

A Word of great Controversy: „Unknown“

This project would not be the same if the title would not carry this little, (admit it!) frankly „disturbing“ word unknown. As practically the majority of art books are presenting and often pretending the artist of the publication to be (already?) world famous, they mostly actually just are not. This fact does actually not have any influence of the quality of their work. Every artist is known in their large or small surrounding, in print or internet media, but outside of it they simply are not known. Which makes it now really interesting to show how interesting work can be created by artists we all don´t know (yet!).

In the many years publishing exceptional books on contemporary art, numerous interesting artists has crossed the path of Darling Publications, the vast majority of them unknown, although absolutely worth to be more known (or maybe not…?). The experience is that even presumably world famous artists turn out to be totally unknown for people presumably established in the international art scene and first time heard names of artists showed up several times consequently in following days.

The biographies of artists shown in the meanwhile thousands of exhibition announcements, entering daily in everybody´s mailboxes, are mostly based on the presentation form as if the artists are well known and exhibiting everywhere, and always assume to be generally already part of the established art scene. Even for the attentive art scene followers and loyal art magazine readers, the amount of new names to be discovered can hardly be followed up. The astonishing fact however is that daily new names showed up of artists who turned out to be indeed well known since many years. So obviously every one knows in their own vicinity a lot more unknown artists, because it is more the work, personality or other factors which make people taking notice of artists.

So the planned publication is conceived to show the relative un-importance of the ”Grade of Well-Knowness“ and aims to focus on the work, which will be noticed as the most important part of the publication. By presenting 1044 artists in alphabetical order, each presented on 2 pages, a right page and verso a left side, each artist will be displayed with an unpredictable left neighbor and, after turning the page, another unpredictable neighbor on the right. The choice of presenting every artist on this way has delivered extremely surprising constellations, and has proven to be also quite original on another way: The unique individually of each artist is shown physically by giving everybody 2 pages on the same sheet of paper: if teared out of the book, nobody will be missed as the alphabetical order is not disturbed!
An additional treat to the reader´s senses will be that each artists may/must send in their OWN designed pdf´s of the 2 pages.
This idea, a guarantee for non stop changing 2400 exciting, boring, beautiful, shocking, seductive, horrible; in short: well- and bad designed pages, proved in the first Compendium project to be a huge success, so we certainly are not changing this exciting concept.
An Indesign model page 1 and 2 will be supplied as a file. We assure you that the final result will be absolute stunning and startling!

So the final part of this project presentation, The Rules of the Game, which has proven to have functioned smoothly and successfully in the 2009 Compendium:

The Selection of the 6 Groups.

The first group of artists will be invited to take part in this project by Andy Lim himself (moi!). This group will be containing artists which were formerly unknown to Andy Lim himself, so to say a first hand encounter. The invitation is based on the appreciation of the artistic spirit, not on the work.

The 2nd Group: Each artist who want to participate will now act as a curator and propose 2 other artists, preferably geographically remote instead of the studio neighbor, as this increase the chance of expand globally. Of course this is not a must.

Following the initial participation in Group 1 there will be 5 following „groups of 2 nominees“ as each participant will act as a curator for 2 other invited artists, each with the same rights and duties.

The 6th group is the last and final group, so the artists in this group unfortunately cannot recommend further artists. This is regrettable indeed, as experience shows that by now an enormous mass dynamics has been unfolded, but 2400 pages with more than 1000 individuals are already quite challenging to handle!

The Profile of the Artists

So what kind of artists are interested in this project?
Of course, to commit to the participation of this project, a certain sense of humor should be not absent. The courage and coolness needed not to care about „others“ view on oneself joining such a project is not easily to be taken for granted, but can be helpful. Inviting other „colleague artists“ in a book with this slightly provocative title might lead to some discussions, and in case there are no discussions, a possible cool down of personal relationships could occur. Although this could also happen by not inviting them! The experiences made in the 2009 compendium have shown that the social aspects have been a major burden for some, but also a great motivation for others. An elegant tip: any questions by insulted artists who ask later why they were not asked could be answered that they were not considered as unknown, but on the contrary, as TOO known. Although we cannot guarantee either that by participating in the Compendium of Unknown Contemporary Artists one will stay unknown! As many curators will very possibly take up this Compendium as an artist´s insiders‘ tip and a tool to find possible sleepers. Exactly this happened with the Jewellers Compendium where till today several shows were curated solely out of that book!

here a link: A Show curated exclusively out of the Jewellers Compendium by Dr. Friedrich Gartner

Imagine a 13,5 kilo, 2 Volume Compendium, bound in the highest quality, presenting over 1000 unknown, but worth to be known, (at least according to their artist colleague who nominated them) contemporary artists: That will challenge absolutely anybody with the slightest interest in Contemporary Art to satisfy his curiosity if he nevertheless might know somebody in it despite this provocative title! The chance in not knowing anybody in this publication can probably, calculating realistically, be considered to be at 0%, which will put the so despised description of „unknown contemporary artist“ in total different point of view, as everybody except for group one, who are just unknown to the publisher himself, are inviting good artists who they know, just maybe unknown to some others, or maybe not …?
The Quality

The Procedure: the Funding and Nomination

The most important and ingenious part of the concept to have succeeded in making this crazy and initially declared to be „nuts“, „impossible“, „insane“ project (these were the harmless descriptions) is that this project was only made possible by the fact that every artists take over the production costs of his own copy. This will be approximately the half of the retail selling price. If the financing is secured of the 1044 copies, funding of the additional 450 copies (which will be for sale) of the total edition of 1500 copies will be covered by sponsors and co-editors, private or institutions. Once 2/3 of the financing has been secured, it shows a considerably better situation to find funding for following sponsors, as nobody want to be the first to give something. The 2008/2009 Compendium had 2 museums as sponsors and co-editors.

The procedure which has proven to be so successful in realizing such an enormous complex project, skeptically considered by many to be impossible, will be the same, as experience teach us: never change a winning team or concept! The only significant difference with the 2008/2009 Compendium Finale is that instead the case that in 2008/2009 such a project was totally new and had no single experience, we have now 1044 references in 54 countries, each of them can confirm the correctness (financially!), fun and stress (curating!) and success of the project, from the start till the great presentation party in Munich 2009!

As the project is concepted that every artist is recommended and nominated by another artist already participating in the book, we are not able to fullfill all the artists´ wish and desire to participate. For those we set up a pool, where some participating artists can look at and eventually like to nominate from. This happened in the Compendium of 2009, where surprisingly several artists were very interested to discover other artists they did not know themselves yet-something what even absolutely correspondences more with the concept of this project!

The nomination tree:

At the end of the book ca. 70 pages the nomination tree will be published, where will be shown which artist came in through which other artist. It will also show a written statement from the nominating artist why he/she chose the invited artist. etc.

The Time Frame

The deadline of collecting all 1044 artists in this crazy and slightly insane project should be the first of September.
by then ca. 24000 emails should have done their work and collected 2088 pages. Then the editorial texts will be collected and everything prepared for the pre-press. by the End of the year the printing should be finished, so the longest and biggest part of this project should start: the bookbinding.

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