There are a handful of themes that run through Soberscove books: alternative forms of documentation, process, connecting historical materials to the present, alternative pedagogies, and the relationship between “amateurs” and “professionals.” These are not necessary criteria, but they are things that come up repeatedly in our books. I like that a motley history coheres under the Soberscove umbrella: a book on Russian conceptual performance is next to a book on Abstract Expressionism is next to a book about 19th century sculpture. Perhaps most importantly, I want the material that Soberscove publishes to be presented in an accessible way, so that no specialized knowledge is needed going in and so that, hopefully, the books function as entry points into new areas of inquiry. The Artists’ Board Book Series presents artists’ work in the form of the children’s board book (those small, hard books that facilitate early interactions with books and that are resilient objects that can be thrown and chewed). The idea behind the series is to give kids unusual visual experiences early in their lives as lookers/readers, to present art in an alternative format, and to get the work of the artist/authors in front of people who wouldn’t necessarily come across it otherwise.
It’s a cliché to discuss the relationship between new media and old, but for the last fifty years or so that’s been the topic, and in a funny way, we haven’t quite moved beyond that yet. It’s still a compelling argument for the emerging generation of aspiring publishers to shape the future of literacy, to build the books they want to read—exciting times indeed.
The aesthetic varies, but everything Kenning Editions puts out is explicitly involved in a negotiation between political commitment and aesthetic quality. I evaluate a work’s suitability based on the intensity of that negotiation. Work of that kind proves, in so many ways, that “experimental” is not a stylistic feature or set of effects. I think risk and deliberation are mutually ramifying whenever there is an experiment involved.