Melbourne Art Book Fair returns for 2020

AAR NGV Melbourne Art Book FairThe annual Melbourne Art Book Fair will return for its sixth instalment this March with over 40 events featuring more than one hundred guests including leading thinkers from Moscow’s Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design and Amsterdam-based art and design collective Metahaven.

Over three action-packed days, the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall will be transformed into a hive of activity as more than 100 publishers showcase books, magazines and zines, and an extensive public program of lectures, workshops and performances is rolled out to celebrate art and design publishing on a global scale.

“It’s so important for Australian and international publishers to come together to showcase and reflect on the successes of the publishing industry,” said Tony Ellwood AM, NGV Director. “As the biggest art and design publisher in the Southern hemisphere, the NGV is so proud to offer our global publishing community a platform for ongoing connection via the Melbourne Art Book Fair.”

During Melbourne Art Book Fair, the NGV will announce the winner of the Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing. This NGV initiative, which recognises outstanding publishing practice exploring art, design, architecture and contemporary culture, will award an overall winner $15,000 AUD and up to five finalists $1,000 AUD each. The NGV gratefully acknowledges the Cornish family for their support of The Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing.

A highlight of the Fair is The New Normal: Design in the Age of Global Computation, a half-day symposium curated by Olga Tenisheva and Nicolay Boyadjiev from the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. The event will explore how speculative design research can be used for experimentation to create a new design voice in the face of shifting economics, politics and cultural norms. Symposium speakers include Amsterdam-based artist/design collective Metahaven in their debut Australian lecture to coincide with their exhibition Metahaven: Field Report at Design Hub Gallery, RMIT University.

For the first time Pirate Radio will broadcast live across the weekend from the NGV’s St Kilda Road Forecourt hosting talks, performances and interviews designed to stimulate conversation about the publishing sector. Live streaming of the event will be available via the NGV website, beginning on Friday night with an experimental sound broadcast from Liquid Architecture and De Player. Saturday’s broadcast will be hosted by Australian artist collective Field Theory and Sunday’s broadcast will feature a ‘Tell-a-thon’ hosted by local writing school The Good Copy and featuring publishing industry experts.

Kids’ Own Publishing will present the debut of a dedicated children’s publishing workshop space. Led by Melbourne artist Michael Camilleri, kids and families can learn the art and craft of book making from guest artists. Progressing through a book-making station, children will assemble their work, photocopy it, and have the opportunity to display their work at the NGV.

Ladies of Leisure will present the rapid-fire new pal making session Friendship Speed Dating. Designed to break down social awkwardness and encourage new friendships between like-minded people, the session will be a chance to connect with fellow book lovers, makers, creatives, and potential future collaborators.

Atomic Activity Books will present The Library of Nonhuman Books – an interactive vending machine that autonomously generates and publishes new books through the use of artificial intelligence. Via a custom-coded reading machine, the technology can read, understand and interpret the contents of any physical book to create an entirely new publication. Offering a new way of looking at the future of publishing, these books are intended for a post-literate society where reading has mostly become the domain of artificial intelligence.

Melbourne Art Book Fair will feature a number of local and international book launches including DESTINY – a publication coinciding with a major retrospective on contemporary Australian artist, Destiny Deacon, opening at NGV Australia on 27 March. The first book published by the NGV featuring all-Indigenous scholarship, DESTINY includes essays by Hetti Perkins, Claire G Coleman, Jonathan Jones, Brenda L Croft, Brook Andrew, Tony Albert, and Richard Bell.

Arts Project Australia will present the launch of Hero Man by Jimmy Tran – an emerging painter and drawer specialising in the creation of artist zines; editor Mel Dodd will be joined by architectural writers Rowan Moore and Naomi Stead in a conversation about alternative architectural practices at the launch of Spatial Practices: Modes of Action and Engagement with the City, published by Routledge; and the edited collection The Art of Laziness: Contemporary art and post work politics will be launched by Art + Australia, with a discussion by artists and academics exploring the book’s themes.

The 2020 Melbourne Art Book Fair runs 13 – 15 March and is presented as part of Melbourne Design Week. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Guests enjoying the Melbourne Art Book Fair – photo by Tobias Titz