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Miss Read 2022: Berlin’s Art Book Fair returns to HKW

With a spotlight on publishing from the African continent and diaspora, Berlin's art book fair is back with debates and plenty of browsing.

The Miss Read Art Book Festival in 2018. Photo: © Jan Sobotka / Miss Read

After two years away, ‘MISS READ: The Berlin Art Book Festival’ returns to its spiritual home at HKW from April 29 to May 1, 2022. Featuring over 300 publishers, art periodicals and authors, this analogue fixture will spotlight publishing from Africa and the African diaspora for its 14th edition.

A series of lectures, workshops, discussions and book launches will explore the boundaries of contemporary African publishing, while the book fair itself offers space to browse magazines and art books from Cameroon, South Africa, Belgium, Brazil and beyond.

The festival opens on Friday April 29 with a discursive performance by the artist Renata Felinto and a discussion on ‘Publishing as a Space for Resistance’ with Pascale Obolo and Parfait Tabapsi. On Saturday, Conceptual Poetics Day returns with artists and publicists reflecting on the boundaries between visual art and poetry. All events are free to attend with prior registration.

MISS READ 2022 is organised by Yaiza Camps, Moritz Grünke, Pascale Obolo, Michalis Pichler and Parfait Tabapsi. We caught up with the team to find out more about this year’s edition.

Miss Read is back from April 29 – May 1. Can you tell us more about this year’s festival?

Moritz: This year, Miss Read features a radio station in collaboration with RebootFM. Over the weekend you can tune in to our vivid programme featuring interviews with exhibitors, authors, artists and spectators. There are also episodes of publishers’ podcasts and DJ sets that will soundtrack the festival, as well as recordings from the Miss Read stages. 

This radio station is a consequence of the pandemic years. It was developed to make the festival more accessible to an audience that can’t attend the event physically. This radio programme provides the possibility to join the actual conversations and debates, to discover new voices and opinions, to get a glimpse into the practices of authors, artists and publishers.

Pascale Obolo co-organised this year’s Miss Read and will host “Publishing as a Space for Resistance” on Friday, April 29. Photo: Miss Read

The focus this year is on publishing from Africa and the African diaspora. How did this come about – why now?

Yaiza: This actually started in 2019 with a collaboration with Pascale Obolo (African Art Book Fair/Afrikadaa) to highlight publishing practices from the African continent and the African diaspora. Eventually, due to Covid (the festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021) the whole project shifted into a publication co-produced by Afrikadaa and Mosaïques: Decolonizing Art Book Fairs, 2021. This year’s edition is the continuation of this project together with Pascale Obolo (AABF/Afrikadaa) and Parfait Tabapsi (Mosaïques), and something we plan to continue in the future. 

Which African art magazines/books should we be checking out?

Parfait: They are many and diverse, but mostly online. Titles like Chimurenga (South Africa) or Kwani?. In Kenya there are some good ones covering everything from art to social analysis; they also give a large platform to writers and various artists. But there are other publications by Africans or for African interest produced far from the continent. I think of PAM (Pan African Music), Music in Africa (South Africa), Le grenier de Kibili in Dakar. Mosaïques, that I founded in 2010, is also part of that. Each month we cultivate African discourse on arts, cultures and ideas from Africa and its diaspora, opening our doors to journalists, artists and researchers.

Pascale: Chimurenga, Afrikadaa, Zaman, Awalebooks, Huza PressNice Magazine, Nothing but the Wax, Clijec, Jalada… all of them exhibitors at this year’s MISS READ.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

Pascale: It’s the first time that I’ll assist in an inclusive art book fair in Europe. I consider those who take the risk to invite independent publishers from the South, specially from Africa, to be inclusive.

Yaiza: I’m personally really looking forward to the performance by Afrobrazilian artist Renata Felinto this Friday. She designed this performance specially for this MISS READ edition and it’s a great opportunity to see her perform live. But, of course, the whole programme this weekend is packed with amazing artists and publishers, so you should check out our programme! I’m also really excited about this year’s first-ever ‘MissReadio‘ – a radio station we are hosting in collaboration with RebootFM.

The festival returns to HKW. What do you love about this venue?

Michalis: The HKW is spatially generous. Actually, it is not easy to find a venue in Berlin that can host 300 exhibitors. But as important, or even more so, is that the people who work at HKW have been very generous, supportive and welcoming, since Miss Read relocated to there in 2017.

What’s your all-time favourite art book?

Pascale: This is a difficult question to answer! I’m passionate about artist’s books. It would be unfair to name one. There are so many that I like…

Parfait: I’m more a consumer of art magazines than art books. Within this category, most of them are French speaking, because they are those that are easily accessible in our country, Cameroon. So I am a long-time reader of Le Monde Diplomatique which is a monthly publication dedicated to international relations and art criticism. It used to appear in German through a partnership with TAZ. There’s also a periodical called Manière de Voir which, every three months, tackles a single issue in magazine format. The second magazine is also from France; it is called Le 1, a weekly magazine that brings together journalists, artists and researcher to tackle a single issue every week.

Finally, where do you like to read a book in Berlin?

Yaiza: What I love about Berlin is the amazing amount of parks, lakes and greenery everywhere within the city. I live near Schäfersee and I enjoy grabbing a book and reading by the lake when the weather is good.  

Michalis: Just anywhere, when you find the time and peace of mind to do so. Borges considered reading a blessing, and one of the ways to happiness. We agree.

Miss Read Art Book Festival, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, Tiergarten / Friday April 29 (from 5pm) – Sunday May 1, 2022 // Free entry⁠