Museum of Modern Art Bibliographer David Senior has edited—with non-profit culture publisher Occasional Papers—a book of essays and images to accompany his show of exhibition-related ephemera called Please Come to the Show. He shared some thoughts in advance of the launch event with the ICA Blog.
I organized an exhibition of invitation cards and flyers at the MoMA Library called Please Come to the Show in 2013, partly because of the complete change in how we get invited to things today. It sort of felt worthwhile to highlight this change with a historical exhibition of some of the great examples of the past fifty years from the Library's very large collection of exhibition ephemera. The show looked back at the genre of the printed invitation in the midst of this technological watershed point - which has made it really hard to remember how people communicated in the not-so-distant past. We are, generally speaking, fully converted to new ways of being invited, whether it be by email blast, Facebook, or some other e-vite. Artists, gallerists, museums - they all do it and it seems to work OK.
During the last five years or so (or maybe it has been a decade?) it’s a regular occurrence to get notices from galleries or institutions announcing the end of their program of printing invitations. The example above comes from Brazil - a gallery named Galeria Fortes Vilaca. It has stayed on my desk for a couple of years as a particularly handsome example of the genre. In hindsight, I wish I did a better job at collecting more of these announcements. A future student could have browsed a file folder that was labeled "The Farewell Cards."
Antony Hudek invited me to bring this Please Come To The Show to his Exhibition Research Centre in Liverpool. He and his team there did an excellent job in staging the show and expanding on the previous version. As part of this new version of the show, we made a book with Sara de Bondt as part of Sara and Antony's imprint Occasional Papers. The book is now published and we are happy to share it with the public at a special launch at the ICA. ■