LEAP × LAABF: Chinese Art and Indie Culture on Paper

LEAP editors Zhao Mengsha and Lai Fei in discussion with Samantha Culp

LEAP editors Zhao Mengsha and Lai Fei in discussion with Samantha Culp

The LA Art Book Fair, a spinoff of the New York Art Book Fair founded and presided over by art book iconoclast Printed Matter, is a four-day event that crams the maximum number of international galleries, publishers, and independent zine-makers and paper pushers of all sorts into the Geffen MOCA in downtown Los Angeles. At the 2016 LA Art Book Fair, LEAP Magazine was represented both with a booth offering back issues of the magazine and independent art publications from China, and with participation of LEAP editors Zhao Mengsha and Lai Fei in a panel entitled “Chinese Art and Indie Culture on Paper.” In discussion with Los Angeles-based writer and curator Samantha Culp, the panel addressed the wide gamut of art and underground publishing in China from the legacy of handwritten and copied manuscripts throughout China’s long and formidable print history, to the current climate for zines, monograph publication, magazines, and more.

Chronicling the evolution of independent art publications from the past two decades of hand-drawn zines emerging from punk and experimental music communities to online photography magazines and the rise of tumblr culture in China, the panel discussed the value of creating physical printed material even as supercharged apps rule commerce and culture. The importance of cultivating creative content that lives online for easy access, but also manifests as a physical object of rarity and worth contributes to the idea Lai Fei called “a taste-driven motivation to share content across all platforms.”

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