THE SINKING BEAR
THE SINKING BEAR
Boo-Hooray and Division Leap have co-published the exhibition catalogue The Sinking Bear,reprinting 9 issues of the most insane, beautiful and innovative mimeo zine of the early 1960s. The 162 page oversized catalogue is printed by Keegan Cooke's Circadian Press on risograph in silkscreened boards in an edition of 300 copies.
At the 2013 New York Art Book Fair at MOMA/P.S. 1 there was a dual exhibit in the Ray Johnson Room (Gallery Y) devoted to Sinking Bear and Ray Johnson's A Book About Death, displayed along with related ephemera and zines.
The exhibit was staged by Phil Aarons (Printed Matter), Adam Davis (Division Leap) and Johan Kugelberg (Boo-Hooray).
Edited by the mysterious Soren Agenoux (by differing accounts a mail artist, playwright, suspected thief and forger) The Sinking Bear arose from artists associated with the downtown New York circle around the poetry newsletter The Floating Bear, edited by Diane Di Prima and Leroi Jones. The Floating Bear not only filled a vital role allowing poets to share and refine their work, but also provided fodder for the rather vitriolic ridicule presented in Sinking Bear, which balanced a fine line between imitating Floating Bear and acting like its nemesis.
Diane di Prima subletted her apartment to Soren Agenoux before leaving for California, entrusting him with funds to print the 24th issue of Floating Bear. He fulfilled his obligation in the shoddiest manner, but also began putting out his own zine using Floating Bear as a model: focusing not on poetry as a discipline, but on amphetamine-fired gossip, parodies of advertising and real or fictitious overheard conversations.
Collagist and mail artist Ray Johnson was involved with this semi-mythical bitch-zine. A number of his works appear in The Sinking Bear, most in his inimitable voice and style, including a collage based upon one of his pages from A Book About Death.
Reading Sinking Bear gives the impression of a being at a party where people are saying brilliant things, and you're torn between retreating and writing them down or staying at the party and risk forgetting what was said in the gray light of morning.
Original issues are hopelessly rare, it took three of us ten years of searching to put together (what we think is) a complete run.
A portion of the proceeds from the publication benefit the ongoing quality work of the mighty Printed Matter.