Social Art Publications: A Q&A with R.M Sánchez-Camus

Social Art Publications, a new artist-led publishing initiative from the folks behind Social Art Network will be launched on 28 November 2019 at Live Art Development Agency.

We chatted to R.M. Sánchez-Camus about the project and how Axisweb members can get involved…


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How did Social Art Publications come about?

Social Art Publications (SAP) was born out of a desire to support and hold the knowledge production being delivered by social practice artists across the UK, and build a resource and portfolio of practice that could build a language around socially engaged arts. Lots of artists are self-publishing works and then are left without support for distribution and knowledge sharing.

In keeping with the remit of the Social Art Network (SAN), the publishing house became another way to make connections across a disparate field, and have those connections be between the field workers. At the Social Art Assembly at Tate in April we held various conversations around how to move SAN into the future and I was interested in considering publishing. I had my first published artist book to launch over the Summer of 2018 and was looking into publishers but there was nothing really for socially engaged artists, and artists books except going DIY. So I proposed that we talk about creating SAP as a collective.

A great group of artists come into the talk and offered incredible advice and over the next few months spent time planning how this new publishing house would work. With a collection of ISBN’s to make available to artists and with a new partnership with Live Art Development Agency’s bookshop Unbound we very quickly were ready to support artists. Our first two books are of core members of the steering committee of SAP who happen to have books coming out this year. So we are lucky to already have 2 books in our collections and are looking forward to supporting so many more.

What are the aims for Social Art Publications? What sorts of content are you interested in?

SAP is aiming to develop new language around what it means to create social practice today. We’re hoping to develop critical ways to understand practice and share in generating dialogue and interaction through printed material. We are also aiming to showcase new work, and strengthen our growing network of artists who support each other. As we build and grow this portfolio we will hold a strong database of thinking around how the arts and society interconnect and continue to be the leading artist-led platform in the UK for social practice artists. 

What is printed is up to the imagination and research of the artists interested in publishing. These could be researched books on topics that bridge society and culture, archives through photos and essays of the many wonderful works of art that are created across the country, photographic studies of process, or simply creative writing or psychogeographic explorations of places and people. As long as the work really shows elements of collaboration, social relevance, political agency and
awareness of the field they would be included.

 How can people get involved?

SAN and SAP is volunteer led and we are always looking for bright, energetic people who would love to help the sector thrive and support others. If you have are interested in being part of a national platform definitely reach out to us. We also run meetups for social practice artists in cities across the UK, so definitely come to a meet up to and out more. Think about publishing and if its right for your project, leave a budget aside to create text around this and see if this is right for your practice or piece. Finally come to the launch! It will be an exciting time to not just present SAP but to co-create it together.

 What will you be presenting at the launch?

I will be presenting a short story from my book Elan Calls: A Creative Companion Guide to the Valley  This is an artistic journey into the Elan Valley of rural mid-wales create during a residency living off grid. The story is called Under the Lake and explores metaphors of death and dying inspired by the drownings of Harriet Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Elan Village but the Victorian dams of the valley.

Find out more: 

The launch of Social Art Publications will take place at 7pm on Thursday 28th November 2019 at Live Art Development Agency, Garrett Centre, 117A Mansford Street, Bethnal Green, London, E2 6LX.
The event will include talks, readings and performances from R.M. Sánchez-Camus, Lucy Wright and Helen Stratford + Lawrence Bradbury – as well as chance to find out more about publishing your work with SAP.

All welcome! Tickets are free but do be sure to sign up here:

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