At the end of July I attended a talk with Fourthwall Books, a small, independent art book publisher based in Johannesburg. I’ve been following their work for a few years and have been loving what they have been releasing.
I was very excited to finally hear about all their adventures in the realm of local art publishing, especially how they choose and curate the books, what the supply and demand is like, and all the nitty gritty’s involved in a business like this.
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, director and editor, led the talk, focusing on the aesthetics and logistics of Fourthwall Books. Through a slideshow, and with physical copies present, she went through select releases and gave a run down of each project.
I was fascinated with each book having its own unique journey, and how the publisher is particularly drawn to projects that are significant in their own way – less commercial, and often stemming from a strong narrative aspect or background story.
Photographs by Andrew Tshabangu
Edited and with an introduction by Thembinkosi Goniwe
Preface by Mongane Wally Serote
Essays by Michael Godby, Ashraf Jamal, Neelika M. Jayawardane, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Hlonipha Mokoena, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Simon Njami
Hard cover, Duotone, 204 pages, 260 x 240 mm
Published in 2017, ISBN: 978-0-9947009-2-6
Photographs by Sophia Klaase
Foreword by Zoë Wicomb, with essays by Rick Rohde, Virginia MacKenny, Timm Hoffman, Ben Cousins and Siona O’Connell
Hard cover, Full colour, 180 pages, 250 × 210 mm
Published in 2016, ISBN 978-0-9922404-3-1
Photographs by Joana Choumali, with an essay by Azu Nwagbogu
Hard cover, cloth bound, Full colour, 128 pages
Published in 2016, ISBN 978-0-9922404-9-3
by Tamsyn Adams and Sophie Feyder
Hard cover, Full colour, 204 pages, 254 × 216 mm
Published 2016, ISBN 978-0-9922263-8-1
by Lisa King, with an essay by Sean Christie
Hard cover, Full colour, 92 pages
Published 2015, ISBN 978-0-9870429-5-8
by Terry Kurgan
Hard cover, Full colour, 256 pages, 250 × 215 mm
Published 2013, ISBN 978-0-9869850-9-6
Photographs by David Southwood
With essays by Ivan Vladislavić, Ivor Powell and Michael Godby
Hard cover, Full colour, 120 pages, 254 × 216 mm
Published 2011, ISBN 978-0-9869850-7-2
Wake Up, This is Joburg (Series)
Photographs by Mark Lewis, Words by Tanya Zack
Soft cover, Full colour, +- 40 pages, 254 × 195 mm
Published from 2014-2017 (8 out of 10 released)
Fourthwall Books was established in Johannesburg in 2010 by designer Oliver Barstow and writer and editor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. Back then we had one simple goal in mind: to publish visual books that we ourselves would like to own; books that were out of the ordinary—provocative, experimental, well designed, interesting to read, pleasing to hold and look at. We’re still pursuing that goal, though perhaps with a little more clarity than before and also having learned a few important things about books along the way. In 2015 Oliver moved on to new things in Amsterdam, Carla Saunders came on board as our designer and artist and writer Terry Kurgan joined Fourthwall Books as a co-director and editor.
In these first six years of our existence, we have published 33 books and won five prestigious awards: the 2010 Jane Jacobs Best Urban Book Award (New York) for Writing the City into Being;the 2011 Antalis Book Design Award for Fire Walker; the 2015 Jan Rabie Rapport Prize for Non-Fiction for Nagmusiek; the 2015 Kyknet Rapport Prize for Fiction for Nagmusiek; and most prestigiously of all, the 2016 Eugene Marais prize for Nagmusiek.
Purchase books via their website, or from independent bookstores including Clarke’s Bookshop in Cape Town, and Love Books, David Krut Bookstores and Bridge books in Johannesburg. You can also pick up copies from their offices in Parkview and at some Exclusive Books branches. Check out their catalogue for a full list of releases.
Note: Stocks are very limited, and many have since been sold out.
*Not all photographs were shot on 35mm*