The third instalment of the annual Unlock Book Fair took place last December in Amsterdam, with close to fifty exhibitors coming together for the latest meeting of the international graffiti and street art publishing scene. Publishers came from seventeen different countries representing the whole European continent, but also from Australia and Japan. The fair took place at the spacious and beautiful Broedplaats LELY in Amsterdam West. See the full program and list of exhibitors here.
This time the topic of the events program was “punk and graffiti”. We were honoured to host lectures by local punk graffiti legends Hugo Kaagman and Diana Ozon – who also treated us with a reading of her poetry. A third star lecturer was Carlo McCormick, who flew from New York to speak about the early years of graffiti, punk and hip hop in NYC. For the screenings session Unlock unearthed extremely obscure films about Amsterdam’s 1970’s punk graffiti scene featuring the only known images of some of the scene’s key writers – including interviews and images of the writers in action.
Other highlights of the events program were a book-signing session by graffiti pioneer Boris Tellegen AKA Delta, who brought his recent book OH documenting his groundbreaking work on freight trains, and the launch party for the highly anticipated 30th anniversary issue of the venerable Dutch publication Bomber Megazine. The program of publication launches featured a long list of projects ranging from DIY zines, and hardcover books, to scientific journals.
Two companion books were published by the Unlock team on the occasion of the fair documenting two legendary European punk-related graffiti scenes. The first book, entitled Punk Graffiti Archives: The Netherlands, covers the country’s thriving punk graffiti scene from 1977-1983. The second book, entitled Punk Graffiti Archives: Madrid, studies the barely known “flechero” graffiti scene from 1985-1989. The production of the books involved months of research into several private archives, including the two largest existing archives of punk graffiti related documentation – the Diana Ozon Archive and the archive of the Dutch Graffiti Library. Both books have become milestones in the study of these very underexplored topics and collector’s items for graffiti aficionados.
On the two days immediately preceding the fair the Unlock team organised for the second consecutive year the Tag Conference, a unique academic event focused on name writing, or tagging. The conference gathered twenty-one speakers from ten different countries in four continents delivering fascinating insights into the topics of contemporary and historical tagging, all in front of a full auditorium.
Our most sincere thank-you to the publishers, speakers, volunteers and visitors who made this new Unlock Book Fair possible. Expect an exciting 2019 for the Unlock project with the main event in the winter, an offshoot fair in the summer, and several other appearances throughout the year. Stay tuned!