Piero Heliczer and the Dead Language Press

Piero Heliczer and the Dead Language Press

Friday, Feb 21, 2014 - Friday, Mar 14, 2014

Boo-Hooray (Canal Street)
265 Canal Street, Suite 601
New York, NY 10013

The Dead Language Press was founded by Piero Heliczer in the late 1950s. The editions were usually published in a shady fly-by-night manner that consistently realized paper objects of breathtaking beauty. These publications are very hard to find, and have been quite difficult for antiquarian book dealers to contextualize until relatively recently.

The stuff looks like a more rugged, more punk rock Semina. Heliczer would print using busted up type, incomplete alphabets, and lie-beg-borrow-steal paperstock for these masterpieces of stealth letterpress.

There are few finer examples of the visionary work of the global small press/little magazine network of the 1950s and 1960s, showcasing what amazing publications could be realized with little or no money.

The Dead Language Press published masterpieces like Jack Smith’s The Beautiful Book and Henk Marsman and Gregory Corso’s A Pulp Magazine For The Dead Generation. A prolific filmmaker and actor as well as poet and printer, Heliczer also collaborated with Andy Warhol, Ira Cohen, Wallace Berman, William S. Burroughs, Lou Reed, La Monte Young, and myriad other downtown notables on films, performances, and publications throughout the 1960s.

To celebrate one of Jonas Mekas’ favorite unsung artists, Boo-Hooray published Piero Heliczer & The Dead Language Press – A Bibliography in a 2-volume set. Orders included a bonus DVD, Piero Heliczer/Walter Cronkite’s The Making Of An Underground Film, featuring the earliest known footage of the Velvet Underground in its entirety.

This was the third of three shows curated by Johan Kugelberg and Jonas Mekas celebrating great artists of the New York underground.

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.