An Underground Reading Rainbow

Expozine 2014 Showcases the Best of Canada’s Print Culture

courtesy of Expozine.

The 13th edition of Expozine, taking place this weekend, is sure to satisfy the thirst of Montreal’s creative and literary minds as it brings over 300 international exhibitors together to offer up the best of print culture.

Founded in 2002 as a project of Archive Montreal, Expozine is Canada’s largest small press fair, offering a tremendous array of printed work including zines, graphic novels, alternative comics, artists’ books and even the “uncategorizable,” according to their website.

In addition to the fair, this year’s Expozine also features three one-hour roundtable discussions.

“The roundtable I’m most excited about is the one that includes the founders of the Véhicule Press—they were one of the first cooperatives or small presses in the early ‘70s,” said Louis Rastelli, one of the original founders of Archive Montreal.

“Having some of the people who were among the first to do that kind of self-publishing in the early ‘70s, it will be a lot of fun to be able to get to see [the] then-and-now,” Rastelli continued. “They never stopped publishing too, so they’ll be able to say when the changes happened and how we got to where we are now.”

Expozine offers visitors the experience of directly interacting with the creators of the products sold at the event, unlike most corporate fairs.

“For the most part the people who wrote the books or drew them are at Expozine,” said Rastelli.

The two-day affair is a great place to discover and explore unique and often exclusive international cultural products.

“Everyone’s like, ‘isn’t everything on the Internet now?’” Rastelli said. “Well, no, pretty much none of these books and zines are available online.” Many of the artists and writers even create products specifically for Expozine.

“There’s no sign of print culture dying anytime soon, Rastelli said. “Far from subsiding, it seems like every year we turn away more and more publishers.”

“We actually have way more people that want tables than we can accommodate.”

Luckily for those unable to have a table at the fair, Archive Montreal’s Distroboto machines project provides a platform for all sorts of miniature publications, short films, music and arts and crafts projects via repurposed cigarette machines. These machines, which no longer sell cigarettes, sell art for only $2.00 per article ($1.75 of which goes directly to the artist). One such Distroboto machine will be on site at Expozine.

Expozine exhibitors push the boundaries of what are considered books, with works often taking on the quality of art objects.

“I’ve seen some of what will be at Expozine in advance and there’s some pretty wild stuff,” said Rastelli.

He went on to give The Link some hints of the innovative works at this year’s fair by mentioning 3D books, a trend he noticed popping up a couple years ago.

“The vast majority of what is offered [at Expozine] isn’t offered anywhere else,” he said.

With such a huge talent pool at this year’s event, it’s worth checking out the list of exhibitors ahead of time to get a feel for what you want to see when attending the event. Chances are good that you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of exhibitors and works up for sale.

“It’s almost impossible to visit them all at the fair…but at the same time that’s what makes it great,” Rastelli said. “It’s not often there are so many people in the same room with so many books.”

Expozine // Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 // 5035 St. Dominique St. // 12-6 p.m. // Free