The Blind Date Convention, Festival of the Artist’s Book is the main Slovenian event dedicated to the medium of the artist’s book as well as to artistic periodicals, zines and editions. Predominantly taking place at the Kapsula Gallery, the P74 Centre and Gallery and the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, the festival is centred around a book fair with accompanying exhibitions, retrospectives, workshops, book releases and symposia.
Since 2004, the P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Institute has been systematically supporting and popularising the production of artists’ books and editions of national and international authors. Though such artworks have some history in Slovenia, they have only recently been given a more systematic exposure by the institute’s activities of publishing books, organising workshops, visiting international fairs, and so on.
In 2010, in collaboration with the UNESCO project World Book Capital Ljubljana 2010, the institute set up the “Blind Date Convention: The First International Festival of the Artist’s Book”.
The book fair is the central event of the festival. Held at Kino Šiška, it features a number of artist’s books, of both local as well as foreign authors, and also books by photographers, designers, small publishers, poets and others. A special fair of “collector’s editions” took place in one of the past editions, featuring works by Alighiero e Boetti, Jesper Fabricius, David Nez, Dalibor Martinis, Mladen Stilinović, Vlado Martek, Mladen Stropnik and others.
New artists’ books also get to be published and promoted during Blind Date, as well as books on art criticism and theory (such as the one on contemporary visual arts in Slovenia, with texts by Dejan Habicht and Jože Barši).
The exhibitions are sometimes created in collaboration with other institutions such as the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, the Look Back and Laugh publishing house and the Zagreb-based Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery.
Among the past exhibitions, one can mention the display This is not a book! Item: BOOK, dealing with the past 50 years of the artist’s books in Slovenia (featuring a discussion with Marko Pogačnik, a pioneer in this field); the ZineZine display, presenting Slovene zines created in the last 5 years (curated by Zoran Pungerčar); an exhibition of works by the Italian artist Pino Poggi; and a display of the books published by P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E., with works by Robert Barry, Marcel Broodthaers, Eva Hesse, Hans-Peter Feldman, Jonathan Monk, Ahmet Ogut, Katerina Šeda, Alja Piry and others.
In 2014, a presentation of the artist’s book 26 stages of erection by Dejan Habicht took place at the Blind Date AFTER event at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia.
Since 2009, the P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Institute regularly presents and sells artists’ books at international art fairs such as the Miss Read in the Kunstwerke Berlin, the NY Art Book Fair in P.S.1, Centre of Contemporary Arts, and in other fairs held in Los Angeles, Paris and Brussels. Some of the books have been included in the artists’ books collections of eminent institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, the Museum of Modern Art Weserburg, the South End University in London and the CNEAI Paris. They can also be purchased in specialised bookshops such as Boekie.Woekie (Amsterdam), Pro-qm and Motto (Berlin), Printed Matter (New York), Castilo-Coralles and Florence Loewy (Paris).
Blind Date has also organised special exhibitions of works by the Swiss publishing house KODOJI Press, the independent distributor MOTTO Distribution, the Leipzig-based Lubok Verlag.