Platform for Pedagogy is a tool I’ve come to heavily rely on, living in the overwhelming myriad of cultural events and opportunities that is New York City. C0founded in 2008 by Boško Blagojevic and Xenia Pachikov and run by John Arthur Peetz, Jessica Loudis and Allison Rodman, Platform offers a curated list of public lectures and forums taking place in the city through weekly email bulletins and an easy-to-navigate website. Encouraging diverse and accessible programming in institutions, their main purpose is to promote the public lecture as a model for learning within and across disciplines. I asked Blagojević a few questions about Platform’s approach and upcoming projects they’re working on:
TT: Platform for Pedagogy started in 2008. Was this in response to anything specific? How did the project begin?
BB: In some sense it was this: finding myself dislodged from the then-comfortable environs of a university affiliation, a degree-oriented program, a project. Finding myself alone in a city with so many others.
TT: How do you choose your listings? Are there any particular aspects–venues, topics, people–that stand out?
BB: I guess there is a politics to every selection, a perceived or actual affiliation, an unspoken alliance, some long-standing grudge, a personal animosity, structural nepotism, deep intuition, superficial interest, hostility to an idea or scene, a certain institutional context, the reciprocal volley of desired or actual support, the timeliness of the thing. There is also conviction, belief. This may be the most powerful animating force of all.
The Beltway Sniper attacks took place over a three-week period in October of 2002, when two men went on a killing spree in the greater metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. The murders, which were performed entirely at random, caused ten fatalities and critically injured three. David Roesing was a “jaded teen” when the events took place–he remembers canceled sporting events, patrols at school, and traffic jams. These consequences, as minor as they may seem, were characteristic of an entire country’s psyche at that time. The events took place only a little more than a year after 9/11, and the resulting changes in attitudes about public space epitomized, for Roesing, the “fear of random death” that was so prevalent in America.
Over the past year, Roesing and his roommates have co-run an informal lecture series called Upfront Night using their house as a venue. During one such session, having invited his friend who works in the Washington, D.C. mayor’s office to come and lecture, Roesing decided to dedicate the evening to D.C. and present a thesis on the Beltway Sniper that narrated and confronted the coinciding response of the public to these attacks. Using photocopies from Washington Post microfilm archives, he tracked and graphed out the day-by-day happenings during those three weeks: “I had the full account of every person shot, then a section where I just talked about my memories of being in school at the time. I knew I wanted to end by zooming outward, and undercutting the importance of the sniper. I figured by just examining the amount of people killed by various events would make the point, sort of riffing on one of the last things David Foster Wallace wrote, asking why we view the people who die in car accidents differently than the people who died on 9/11.” When Elizabeth Jaeger of Peradam publishing group saw the presentation, she suggested to Roesing that it would translate well as a book.
Last week’s New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 affirmed for me how essential collaboration in the arts can be. One of those partnerships in particular stood out. Run by Elizabeth Jaeger and Sam Cate-Gumpert, Peradam is a small New York publishing company that lays a foundation for artists to experiment with material and pursue ideas in new mediums and formats. In the past year, they have published eight books including an artist memoir, Painter’s Journal by Joshua Abelow, a collection of visual poetry by Nick DeMarco, a presentation of notes for Sarah Elliott’s upcoming detective novel, and, most recently, a two-set book by artist David Roesing titled, Terror and the Narrative Tendency (which I will be talking about in my next blog post).
Peradam’s projects go beyond printed pages to include events and series, generating a sort of roster of artists whom they continually work with and follow. The day-to-day operations are a flowing exchange of ideas and developments managed through different forms of communication. The result is a collection of publications executed in a wide range of styles and content, but tied together in a correlating elegant design and clarity of thought that is recognizable in every Peradam project.
I asked Jaeger and Cate-Gumpert to explain how decisions get made, what they look forward to doing next and their future goals for Peradam:
TT: How did you first go about establishing Peradam?
PP: Both of us have long been interested in artist books – I’ve made many of my own, and Sam has always worked in arts publishing. Peradam started as a conversation between Sam and I on how to engage creatively with the people around us, before I even moved to New York. Our interests were similar enough for it to be a cohesive, coherent project, but divergent enough to allow for some creative tension. When I finally moved here, we met, and dove in with a couple of peripherally involved friends. We bought a perfect binder and a commercial paper cutter, figured out ways of printing cheaply, worked out deals with paper suppliers, and started talking with friends and acquaintances we thought might be interested in making books.