The fourth annual Unlock Book Fair took place earlier this month in Cologne. It was once more the meeting of cutting edge, independent, graffiti-related publishers from Europe and beyond. This year’s location was particularly fitting: two of the abandoned arches under the railway in the Ehrenfeld area. The fair was part of the opening weekend of CityLeaks festival. The street was blocked to car traffic, with music and other events going on in different arches all day and until midnight.
The lineup again included projects from all across Europe, and also from other continents – Insomnia, the first graffiti magazine from Israel, and US publishing house Cut in the Fence, co-directed by Adam Void, who gave a lively presentation about the project.
Two particularly ambitious and long-awaited projects were launched at this year’s fair. One is Boulevard magazine, edited by the German authors and curators Robert Kaltenhäuser and Harald Hinz. This first issue of Boulevard features, among other things, a collection of relevant essays from different eras that either have been long out of print or had never been translated to English.
The second groundbreaking contribution is Grintz, directed by Paris-based curator Christian Omodeo, a collaborative online database for graffiti and street art publications that is sure to change the game for aficionados the world over.
Other highlights of the events program were the screening of the film Inside the gancheros meeting, a rare look into the obscure “ganchos” tagging culture of Monterrey, México, and the closing dance performance by Turkish-German calligrapher and choreographer Kadir ‘Amigo’ Memis.
Big thanks to all the volunteers, to CityLeaks and to everyone who came. Thanks to Dedicated Store, the hub of the local graffiti scene, who kindly hosted the fair’s warm-up party in the Friday evening. It was a great weekend folks.
On the Monday and Tuesday directly after the fair, and also in Cologne, the same team behind the 2019 Unlock Book Fair produced the Tag Conference, a unique gathering of researchers dealing with different forms of name-writing in public space.