Traveling Magazine Table

General Information

The Traveling Magazine Table consists of a collection of a broad variety of international magazines, journals, and similar printed publications produced by non-profit and alternative spaces, artists’ collectives, groups, teams, and other forms of collaborations. The Traveling Magazine Table grants an unexpected insight in the discourses and networks existing outside the mainstream channels of art.

Nomads & Residents (an activity initiated in 2000 in New York City by a group of artists, critics, and curators with a special interest in projects that develop on a collective basis and in artistic practices that involve making resources and ideas available for common use) initiated the Magazine Table in 2001 during the first ‘Lecture Lounge’ at the Clocktower of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. In 2003, Nomads & Residents reactivated the Magazine Table with a new title, the Traveling Magazine Table, and a new format: approximately twice a year, this continuously growing collection of magazines and publications should be hosted by different venues all around the world. Magazines or periodicals published by nonprofit and alternative spaces, independent groups, artists, and artists’ collectives are invited to be part of the Nomads & Residents’ Traveling Magazine Table. The Traveling Magazine Table thus activates circulation and allows access to printed publications, of which many have a very limited or difficult distribution, or no distribution at all, unless among a circle of friends. This collection provides information about ideas, projects, practices, and discussions that take place in the broader field of contemporary art and culture.

The format of the Traveling Magazine Table is based on growth, transport, design and set-up, and open access through the open call. With each participating venue, the Traveling Magazine Table is updated with new materials and made available for public consultation. To guarantee its continuity and growth, Nomads & Residents and the host venue announce an open call for submissions to receive new publications. The hosting institute is responsible for transportation of getting TMT. The design of the Traveling Magazine Table is up to the hosting venue: the initiators of TMT are not interested in sending a design around the world. The host is asked to think about how the magazines should be presented in the best way. A few outlines however are given: people should have access; they should be able to spend time, to read, to hang out, to browse; and finally, the Traveling Magazine Table should be hospitable. It is up to the host to define what all this entails.

All the hosts took these outlines as a starting point to create a platform for the Traveling Magazine Table. The CCA in Vilnius asked designers to make a table that would function as one big platform, as part of the exhibition 24/7. Art in General installed the Traveling Magazine Table in a space on the ground floor, to create open access to the public passing by. Art in General also started an organizing system, and introduced on-line published magazines, to be accessed by computers installed in the space. M.I.T. I Boston hosted the Traveling Magazine Table for six months, and organized reading groups with the student community. IASPIS in Stockholm organized a program of lectures in conjunction with the Traveling Magazine Table and asked a local designers team to create a space. IASPIS also published the open call, on e-flux, thus generating attention among the world wide and large e-flux community. During Kulturzone06, the Traveling Magazine Table was part of a larger cultural event, and architect group raumlabor designed modules for each part of this event. The Design Academy in Eindhoven understood the Traveling Magazine Table as a challenge to think about ‘museum’ and ‘collection’, in collaboration with the Van Abbe Museum. The Traveling Magazine Table functioned as a case study for students to work inside the Van Abbe Museum. They continuously re-organized the Traveling Magazine Table, following different organizing-principles. The students also organized an intense program of discussions and a series of workshops ‘creating a magazine in 1 hour’.

Each new ‘landing’ starts with a new open call, made via the mailing list of Nomads & Residents, as well as via the mailing list of the hosting institute. Some of the hosts also used e-flux to announce this event. Through the open call new groups of interested parties and (geographical) contexts could be approached, thus continuously increasing the reach-out of the Traveling Magazine Table with each ‘landing’. For the Open call, the Traveling Magazine Table provides a general text that contains all necessary information. This general text can be slightly adjusted each time by each new hosting venue if they wished to personalize the open call text.

In 2011, the Traveling Magazine Table has become part of the collection of Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, on the invitation of former program director Maria Lind. The collection will be permanently housed in the Center for Curatorial Studies Library and Archives, the graduate research center for contemporary art curators, scholars, critics and artists, that is a dynamic and vital component of CCS Bard’s graduate program in Curatorial Studies. Students are invited to engage with the Traveling Magazine Table on issues like the nature of archives, collaborative curatorial practices, and independent publishing strategies, and invited to further study the Traveling Magazine Table as ‘living archive’.

Artists Bik Van der Pol (also one of the initiators of Nomads & Residents and the Traveling Magazine Table) came for a residency at CCS Bard in the first semester of 2011. During this residency, a collaboration between the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (FBKVB) and CCS Bard – they aimed to discuss with the students of CCS Bard how a ‘living archive’ such as the Traveling Magazine Table could become part of a collection. Issues of conservation, conditions for use, documentation of the Traveling Magazine Table, and investigation (through visits and background theory) into archives were investigated while questioning the function, role and potential of archives such as the Traveling Magazine Table and other archives. Reflections and conclusions on the context of the notion of the archive and the ‘living archive’ in general, activities such as presentations, discussions and workshops have been a way to question what a ‘traveling archive’ could represent in the context of CCS Bard. From this, they developed a way of ‘making public’ the documentation and collecting, and the journey and functions of the Traveling Magazine Table, its production and its discourse.

A web-based presence accommodates full access of the Traveling Magazine Table as part of the collection of the Center for Curatorial Studies Library and Archives. Regularly, the Traveling Magazine Table invites writers to contribute an essay to this website, thus attaching a new and yet again growing collection of published texts to the Traveling Magazine Table.

Bik Van der Pol