Sunday, March 11, 2012

Assembling Magazines - Stephen Perkins, 2012

Assembling Magazines

Assembling magazines represent a genre of publishing that has been a
consistent feature within the correspondence art network from the late 1960s to
the present, and their publishing model reflects the philosophy of this alternative

The term 'assembling magazine' embodies an innovative publishing model that
first gained attention in the early 1970s with the publication of the American
periodical Assembling (1970-87). The editors of Assembling, frustrated at the
limited number of distribution outlets for experimental art and literature during
this period, responded with a periodical that had an open submissions policy.
Contributors were invited to "submit a thousand 8x11" copies of whatever they
wanted to submit."1 Once the submissions deadline had passed the 'editor' took
one work from each pile of artists' pages and literally assembled the magazine —
in the case of Assembling this was in an edition of 1000 copies. Typically each
contributor received one copy of the final periodical, and extra copies were sold
in order to recover some of the publishing & mailing costs. A year earlier in West
Germany, one issue of a similar magazine was published under the title Omnibus
News (1969). Significantly larger than the first Assembling, it included 117
contributors from 8 countries and was issued in an edition of 1500 copies. In his
introductory statement, Christian D'Orville, one of its three editors writes about
his interest in creating this Blattersammlung (collection of sheets) and the chance
manner in which this mass of heterogeneous material was brought together, as
well as its place within the alternative milieu of the period.2

My interest in OMNIBUS NEWS shows itself first in my curiosity
to discover what could develop out of the possibility of such
a sheet-compilation. The heterogeneous and the accidental,
the important and the unimportant. Moreover I am interested
in knowing whether there is the formation of a common tone,
of generalities and connections, or whether it might be silly to
even ask this...One thing is for sure: the experimental aspect of
OMNIBUS NEWS should through the conscious elimination of
conventional values and elimination of thematic directions, find a
place within the opposition to the official art world.3

In important ways these magazines invert the traditional publishing model:
editorial prerogative was abolished, and both editors and contributors become
collaborators in the publishing process. Equally important was the fact that
assembling magazines, with their democratic model, offered everyone the
opportunity to step onto the omnibus of experimental publishing.

This 'open' or non-juried model of periodical publishing has arguably been
most fully realized within the international correspondence art network. As
collaborative events, assembling magazines have served as important sites for
the transaction of community, as well as locations through which community can
accessed and replenished.

Assembling and Omnibus News are two landmark periodicals that emerge out of
the broader institutional critique developed by experimental artists during the late
1960s and 1970s.4 The adoption by the correspondence art network of this anti-
formalist publishing strategy has endured as an influential model for collaborative
exchange, and assembling magazines continue to be instrumental in activating
community across this decentralized network.

Stephen Perkins, 2012

Buy Dr. Perkin's
Assembling Magazines : International Networking Collaborations
Stephen Perkins, editor and curator
Iowa City, IA: Plagarist Press. 1997
Synopsis: Published to accompany an exhibition of assembling magazines at Iowa City's Subspace in 1996, this catalog offers a comprehensive bibliography of assembling magazines, books, and audio compilations from all over the world beginning in the early 1970s. With an introduction written by curator and editor Stephen Perkins. In English.
Pages: 64 p.

Stephen Perkins, PhD
Senior Academic Curator of Art
Lawton Gallery
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Ph: 920-465-2916<tel:920-465-2916>


1. Kostelanetz, Richard. Assembling Assembling. New York: Assembling Press, p.14.
Assembling magazine's title is the term that was adopted to describe this genre of

2. The other two editors were Thomas Niggle and Heimrad Prem.

3. Christian d’Orville, “Marginal Comments,” trans., Curt Germundson, Omnibus
News 1 (1969): np.

4. The following two publications are good sources for further reading about the history of
assembling magazines.
Perneczky, Geza. Assembling Magazines 1969-2000. Budapest, Hungary:
Arnyekkotok Foundation, 2007.
Perkins, Stephen (editor/curator). Assembling Magazines: International

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