06-10-2016 - The book is still far from dead, especially if a variety of parties keep pouring their hearts and souls into making beautiful publications. Dude interviewed four designers who are also involved in publishing.
WRITTEN BY VIVEKA VAN DE VLIET
‘Salvo’ means the simultaneous discharge of several firearms with the aim of decisively hitting a target or paying tribute. And in Dutch, salvo can describe the rapid fire of a camera taking shots in quick succession. But it’s also the name of an artist collective from The Hague and Amsterdam made up of photographers Anne Geene (art and cultural studies), Arjan de Nooy (chemist), Sander Uitdehaag (artist and head chef at Pakhuis de Zwijger), David de Jong (architect), who left the collective in 2015, and graphic designer Vincent van Baar. Four alumni of the Photography department at KABK Royal Academy of Art and their former teacher. The relationships within the team are otherwise equal: Van Baar taught the photography department for the first time, and the students attended the very first classes on graphic design, so that meant being pioneers together and learning from each other. ‘The four of us have good chemistry’, says Geene. From the start, they exchanged countless ideas during their evenings in the pub, until someone said: ‘Drinking and ideas should once again lead to a collective product’. And so they started Salvo Periodics in 2013, a photography magazine that they compile and publish as a Gesammtkunstwerk.
Geene: ‘We didn’t suffer from “after academy syndrome”. I see these publications as assignments we give to ourselves to pour ideas into a thematic form, to work according to a pattern, and to be self-critical. It’s a playground.’ And Van Baar, whose former work included creating image databases, such as for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and Randstad says: ‘This is what I had wanted for a long time.’
'SALVO NOW HAS A LOYAL FOLLOWING'
On average, Salvo makes two thematic issues a year. Depending on the selected theme, they each have a different appearance, size, layout and print run. The themes are supported by photographs (their own and from a variety of other sources), as well as drawings, texts and essays they write themselves, plus occasional contributions from others such as Vibeke Mascini or Paul Bogaers.
They got straight to the point with the first paperback entitled Van deze foto ga je dood (‘you’ll die from this picture’). Number eight is called Sideshow and is about objects that are photographed next to each other, like men who were photographed next to huge machines to indicate scale. Number five is called Actual Size and consists of photos of different subjects that are printed at a 1:1 scale. Number seven is called Vincentomania, and was created during an artist in residency at the Van Gogh Huis in Zundert, and is made up of five booklets in a special case. Publication number six doesn’t exist at all.
Salvo explicitly doesn’t create photographer’s portfolios; it aims to expand the perception of photography. It turns the field inside out, and examines it from upside down. Or as their slogan proclaims: ‘Salvo makes and shakes photography’. It is thorough, but light-hearted and humorous rather than heavy.
Positioning a periodical in a niche within a niche, as Van Baar puts it, isn’t an easy task and certainly doesn’t happen on its own. Although they all have their own private practices, they regularly exhibit their work. Actual Size was exhibited at the Nutshuis in The Hague with a giraffe – printed in actual size. At the start of 2016, Salvo’s work was included in QuickScan at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam – once again with the 1:1 scale giraffe.
'POSTIONING A PERIODICAL ,
IN A NICHE WITHIN A NICHE
ISN'T AN EASY TASK'
They also participate in trade fairs, like the Book Market at Unseen in Amsterdam and the book fair for unique publishers at Paradiso. They distribute the periodicals themselves through bookstores, and Idea Books handles some of the international distribution, as does Johan Deumens Gallery and Erasmus Boekhandel.
Salvo now has a loyal following, especially among graphic designers and photographers. That’s how Erik Kessels, himself an avid collector of found photographs, discovered the initiative. In Photobookstore Magazine he included Black is a Matter of Taste (issue four) as one of his five favourite books of 2014. Financially, the goal is still to break even and they remain focused on exhibitions and leading workshops at art academies. ‘It’s mostly just a lot of fun to do.’
This article is published with the special edition of Dude, Dutch Designers Magazine,
a publication of the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO). Click for more information.
– No.1: Van deze foto ga je dood
– No.4: Black is a Matter of Taste
– No.5: Actual Size
– No.8: Sideshow