How to Make Books and Alienate People: A Teleplay by Colpa Press
INT. ELEVATOR — The scene opens in the shiny elevator of a major modern art museum in California. This is the sort of elevator we will buy for our studio when this post makes us famous.
It appears as though there are three people inside: ARTIST, PUBLISHER, and CURATOR.
ARTIST: (looking at PUBLISHER) So, I’d like to work on a project with you.
PUBLISHER: That would be great! What sort of book were you thinking of making?
ARTIST: I don’t know if it’s a book necessarily. I mean, it could be?
CURATOR: It would be great if it somehow referenced the exhibition I’m currently putting together with the artist’s work.
PUBLISHER: Yeah, we don’t really do that. Produce catalogs of exhibitions, I mean. It’s just not that interesting to us. We look at publishing as a standalone exhibition space, rather than an accompaniment to an existing exhibition.
ARTIST: I totally agree. I want it to be special and not a reproduction of work in the exhibition. That being said, how can we make it different from the sculptures, paintings, and prints that I make?
CURATOR: Okay, well then it would be an editioned work that could be shown in the exhibition?
PUBLISHER: Well, not exactly. We would want to make something that elaborated on one of the works in the exhibition but could stand-alone as its own project.
ARTIST: So, what’s the budget like?
FLASHBACK TO: INT. BEDROOM — DAY — 1983
ARTIST (thirteen years old) holds his hand out and his mother places twenty single dollar bills in his palm, counting each one out loud.
MOM: One… two… three… four… five…
BACK TO PRESENT
PUBLISHER: That all depends. Is the museum going to help with some of the production cost?
CURATOR: (rolls eyes as if she’s heard this before) I might be able to fit something in the exhibition budget if it’s a catalog for the show, but I don’t know if I can if it’s going to produce a new work that won’t be exhibited. Where does your publishing budget come from anyway?
WE SEE the floor indicator on the elevator shift from three to four.
PUBLISHER: Well, we basically do print and design work for clients to pay for all of our publishing endeavors, which, at best, break even. Any support from an institution and/or gallery would ensure that both of us get paid.
ARTIST: Maybe I can chip in?
PUBLISHER: We’ve worked that way in the past a few times. The artist puts in 50% and gets 50% of profits, but we prefer that the artist doesn’t have to pay out of pocket for anything. Let’s go back to what you want to make! Sometimes that helps with figuring out all of these logistical problems.
ARTIST: (excited now) What if we made a book that also included an object?! Wouldn’t that maybe increase the value of the book?
CURATOR: (leaning her hand on the cold steel of the elevator, feeling a temporary moment of relief) It’s important to me that those objects are different from the objects in the exhibition. Or that they somehow signify a different kind of process. Otherwise, the objects in the exhibition lose their value when confronted with a similar yet lower-priced alternative, even if they aren’t for sale necessarily.
PUBLISHER: (frustrated now) Maybe it’s best that the project remain completely separate from the exhibition. Maybe we’ll organize our own launch or event for the book project.
WE SEE the PUBLISHER get a text message and move to the corner of the elevator, staring at the phone intently.
ARTIST: I have an idea for a film. An artist, a curator, and a publisher meet to discuss a project and end up giving up entirely.
ARTIST, PUBLISHER, and CURATOR all, as if on cue, stare up at the floor indicator as it reaches the top floor and dings.
ARTIST: (breaking the silence) Or are we back to making a book?
There is another pause.
Two people exit the elevator.