“I look at books not as books, but as conversations.”
Editor, interviewer-writer, graphic designer, historian, photographer and pianist V. Vale (US) will treat us to an evening of stories and conversations on his publishing activities since 1977. In his chosen role as amateur anthropologist in the Bay Area of San Francisco, he covered cult luminaries like William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, George Kuchar, Timothy Leary, DNA, Lydia Lunch, Genesis P. Orridge, David Lynch, Dead Kennedys, Iggy Pop, Television, Siouxsie Sioux, Suicide, SRL, Sun Ra, John Waters… Vale will bring a good selection of his books as food for conversation.
Friday September 12th
7 – 10 pm
Talk starts at 7.30, drinks & music (Vale’s cassette tapes) at 9 pm
As publisher-editor of the 1977-79 zine SEARCH & DESTROY, V. Vale helped bring international attention to the San Francisco punk rock scene. The publication was launched with $100 each from Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and published at City Lights Bookstore, where Vale worked at the time. For Vale, Punk provided a launching pad for a host of cultural-anthropological explorations, including Industrial music, the writings of J.G. Ballard and William S. Burroughs, feminism, pranksterism, studies of The Body, plus “Incredibly Strange” filmmaking and music, which he has chronicled with the RE/SEARCH series of publications that he founded in 1980.
All 11 issues of Search and Destroy and most of the books he’s helped compile for RE/Search Publications, are in a Q&A format; a format he said was inspired by Warhol’s then-nascent Interview magazine, which Vale greatly admired. He even copied the magazine’s design for his first Search & Destroy.
For Vale the interview format was the most direct and unpretentious way to communicate ideas. He wanted primary-source documentation because he knew that would be quoted for years to come.
Now lauded as an invaluable document of early punk and a graphic design rule-breaker (“We’d do a layout meeting: ‘Here’s the text. Here are the pictures. Your job is to make this interview as rad as you can’”), Search and Destroy also became a way for Vale to make critical connections between the work and thoughts generated by punk groups and those formulated by artists in other media, as interviews with Vale’s mentors Ballard and Burroughs made their way into the zine.
Besides a selection of his Re/Search publications, for PrintRoom especially Vale will bring editions of Vile magazine, a parody of Life magazine and responding to A.A. Bronson’s File magazine.
“I learned long ago that reading is not a passive process. I like to mark up my books. My books are heavily interacted with. I look at books not as books, but as conversations.”
V. Vale’s “I look at books not as books, but as conversations” is part of “Tour & Destroy”—a European tour of speaking engagements by V. Vale, organised by Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp. We would like to thank Chris Fitzpatrick for organising the tour, Christian Greer, Florian Cramer, Ronald Cornelissen and Paul van den Hout. Poster design by Loes Verstappen.