In a deadly short span of time, Matt Preira and Dana Bassett of Roofless Records have wrestled the Miami music scene into an affectionate headlock -- staging shows at underground spots, releasing strange slabs of vinyl, and being named New Times' Best Record Label of 2010.
And now, Basset is pushing her way into the realm of printed matter, looking to give favorite local artists and others some paper love. The imprint's first book is I Swear, a limited-edition, 22-page, staple-bound collection of photography, collage, and drawing by Miami-based provocateur Lazaro Rodriguez.
Over the weekend, Cultist chatted with Dana Bassett about hard copies, I Swear, and a Roofless future.
New Times: What is the official name for the Roofless publishing branch?
Dana Bassett: Roofless Publishing ... The whole operation is straight-up ROOFLESS. Or Roofless Rex if you're nasty.
How often will there be new releases?
Much like the music wing, there will be new releases when we find artists that inspire us enough to compile a collection of their work. Without giving too much away or hyping the future (or jinxing it), we already have artists in mind for future monographs.
What's the mandate or the driving ethic behind the whole project?
To draw another comparison to the record label: We release documents and ephemera that would excite us if we came into contact with them in the wild. Roofless Records presses records we like to hear and Roofless Publishing prints books filled with art we like to look at. The mandate or driving ethic behind the whole project is the pleasure of curating.
Will you be publishing only art books? Or will you also be doing stuff like poetry chapbooks? Fiction? Zines?
We work with few guiding parameters. Generally speaking, the publishing wing will focus on the visual arts, but who knows what direction it will take? We're already talking about future editions that, while grounded in gallery culture, will draw heavily from text, and maybe blur the lines between genres and mediums a bit.
There's not a whole lot of printed matter being produced in Miami. Is the local scene in serious need of a real publishing presence?
We're not interested in being prescriptive, or telling an audience/scene what they need. Our output is based on the work and artists that move us to the point of wanting to be involved with an official document or statement in the form of a record, book, performance, etc.
Describe I Swear. Is it just images? Or is there text, too?
A mix of images ... Some are original photographs by Laz, others are appropriated from the internet. And there are two drawings.
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How do Lazaro's infamous blog experiments "Plan2Cry" and "everybodywasfeelingfine" relate to I SWEAR?
On an immediate level, the themes are easy to deduce from the photographs: young people looking cool and sketchy (the decadence of youth), lots of hairy, naked men (queer desire and self-conception), etc. There's a second level, though, where the medium at hand (a book) enacts an active experiment in trying to translate the internet to printed material. Language A to Language B stands in as a perfect analogy.
The release of Roofless Publishing's I Swear. Friday, July 30. The End, 4141 NE Ave., Suite 202, Miami. Featuring art by Adam Schleimer, Dave Whitaker, Dan Rossiter, Jared Boger, and Nick Klein -- plus some music from CJ, Jimmy, and Jordan. The party starts at 8 p.m. and there's no cover. Visit rooflessrex.com.