The Bardo Matrix Exhibit

The Bardo Matrix Exhibit

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 - Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022

on dreamers waken or die
only the sky
is open to you now
or you may

never know  —Katie McDonald, Bardo Matrix broadside circa mid-1970s

The Bardo Matrix Press was founded in Kathmandu in the early 1970s by original Velvet Underground drummer, artist, and poet Angus MacLise and poet, photographer, and publisher Ira Cohen as a publishing outgrowth of the Colorado artists’ collective of the same name. MacLise and Cohen commenced to issue pamphlets, booklets, posters, books, and broadsides by not only themselves and their fellow travellers, but also by some of the most important names of post-war literature: Paul Bowles, Gregory Corso, Diane Di Prima, and Charles Henri Ford were among the chosen.

The publications were printed in editions of anywhere from a couple of dozen to a few hundred, usually utilizing fine printing techniques such as wood blocks, letterpress, special inks, and handmade paper. But this was not based on traditional thoughts on fine printing, but rather on the opportunity to create something cheap and beautiful. There was a built-in audience for these publications on “Freak Street” in Kathmandu, where people in the circle of Bardo Matrix operated a small bookshop which did decent business selling wood-block printed headshop posters alongside poetry broadsides, these publications, as well as second-hand English language paperback books.

After the 1979 death of Angus MacLise, the activity of the Bardo Matrix Press quietly faded out. Ira Cohen returned to New York City where he was a highly visible member of the poetic demimonde until his passing in 2011, shortly after he had helped stage an exhibition on the life and work of Angus MacLise.

The Ira Cohen Archive was acquired by Yale University in 2011.

The Angus MacLise Archive was acquired by Columbia University in 2013.

This exhibition is a comprehensive gathering of Bardo Matrix materials and is on public display from March 26th through May 24th on the second floor of the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues in New York City. Grolier member and exhibit curator Johan Kugelberg is giving a talk on the Bardo Matrix Press on April 4th.

Angus had always been interested in innovative printing, and working with Piero Heliczer on the Dead Language Press making unique books from treebark or fashioning long horizontal hand-made books after the Tibetan or Indian style. It was Angus who, working with local craftsmen and woodblock artists, really began the great rice paper adventure for us.  —Ira Cohen (1935-2011)

BOO-HOORAY exhibits both at home in New York City as well as internationally. We also stage collaborative exhibitions with the Hayward Gallery and Rough Trade in London, Tsutaya Daikanyama, Hysteric Glamour, and United Arrows in Tokyo, Galleri Operatingplace in Stockholm, Colette in Paris, PopMontreal in Montreal, Mishka Los Angeles, Printed Matter at both MOCA/LA and PS1/NYC, and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, the New York Public Library, the Grolier Club, and Milk Gallery in New York.

Boo-Hooray exhibitions have included shows featuring Larry Clark, The Velvet Underground, Ray Johnson, Afrika Bambaataa, Jonas Mekas, Ed Sanders, Linder Sterling and Jon Savage, Spencer Sweeney, Houston Rap, private press vinyl, Wallace Berman, anarcho-punk group Crass, Jason Polan, Jack Smith, cult-filmmaker Ed Wood, and Situationist Times editor Jacqueline de Jong.

The exhibitions are drawn from cultural archives that Boo-Hooray excavates, organizes, and places in institutions such as Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Cornell University’s Division of Rare Manuscript Collections, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.