Thursday, August 21, 2008
Mail from Harry Ruhe
Harry Ruhe is a publisher, writer and curator in Amsterdam, who specializes in Fluxus, conceptual art and artist multiples. In 1979 he founded Galerie A where he exhibited work by Al Hansen, Yoko Ono, Ulises Carrión, Günter Brus, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, and many others. In 1979 he published one of the earliest, and perhaps most important books on Fluxus. Titled FLUXUS, the most radical and experimental Art movement of the Sixties (a phrase that features in virtually all biographies of Fluxus), the book featured loose leaf pages in a three ring binder. I remember the library at my school had a copy and I had to really restrain myself to not steal it. Despite working for bookdealer Don Lake and artist bookstore Art Metropole, I have not handled another copy subsequently. Following this he published a memoir of his time as a publisher and dealer called Multiples (1991). The Best of Wim T Schippers from 1997 is the first (and only that I'm aware of) book on the Dutch artist with loose ties to Fluxus and Bas Jan Ader, who also voices most of the characters on the Dutch Sesame Street. The publication brilliantly dealt the problem of dual-language art books by coming with two coloured acetate overlays that allowed the Dutch and English to be printed overtop one another, in red or green. A glassine envelope of ephemera was also included.
Books on Stanley Brouwn, George Brecht and Lucio Fontano followed. Ruhe continues to operate Galerie A and www.multiples.nl.
Earlier this year he contacted me about buying a copy of the Jonathan Monk postcard Picture Postcard Posted from Post Box Pictured, and we decided to trade instead. He has sent me several packages loaded up with his excellent publications - works that he either published or distributes, including many rare and out of print titles. Roula just got home from her trip here and a large parcel was waiting for us at the house of our neighbour, who was kind enough to collect our mail and tomatoes while we were gone. This was the first parcel I've ever opened over webcam. Roula cut thru the carefull packaging and then held up each item to the camera one by one for me to see. The parcel included Lawrence Weiner, Fluxus and Joseph Beuys postcards, books on Nam June Paik, Ulises Carrión, Lucio Fontana and a record by Henrik Hakansson.