Sacha Baumann’s FULL BLEDE
By Lorraine Heitzman
In this time of vanishing newspapers, it is a special kind of luxury to hold a printed publication in your hands, to feel and appreciate the tactile quality of newsprint despite the unassuming nature of the material. Sacha Baumann, the driving creative force behind FULL BLEDE, is well aware of these pleasures. If you are lucky enough to snag a hard copy at a gallery or through the mail by request, you will be rewarded with a tangible reminder of both the past and present. FULL BLEDE honors the halcyon days of newspapers and printed matter while showcasing the work of emerging and established artists and writers in Los Angeles.
Baumann, an entrepreneurial designer and artist with a buoyant personality, is the sole publisher, designer, curator and distributor of FULL BLEDE, a new local independent art publication. Since its inception in 2017, she has put out five issues, each organized around a separate theme. Her circuitous path to publishing is entwined with her passion for art, her previous work experience, and the chance discovery of a little known art publication.
Today Los Angeles boasts many excellent art publications, from printed periodicals like Artillery, Carla, and Fabrik, to online culture magazines such as this one (Art and Cake). However, Los Angeles has long had publications dedicated to the arts. Early on, in 1955, there was Wallace Berman’s Semina, a self-published, hand-printed magazine that flourished for almost a decade. Many others followed, some aligned with art institutions, like LAICA Journal, while others were dedicated to specific art movements, such as feminism (Chrysalis) and performance art (High Performance). More than twenty years later, Paul McCarthy conceived and published a single issue of Criss Cross Double Cross, a collection of Los Angeles artist projects that allowed the contributors complete freedom over their pages. Baumann was already considering a similar undertaking when she discovered McCarthy’s art tabloid while working at the Charlie James Gallery via artist/contributor Nancy Buchanan. This serendipitous moment was the inspiration that propelled her to create FULL BLEDE, but it was her background that made her ideally suited to the task.
Baumann, like many other editors and journalists, began by working on her high school paper and while still in school was hired by her local paper to do paste ups. She initially pursued Industrial Design at San Francisco State and then eventually earned a degree in Visual Communications. For years she was a freelance designer of websites, logos and branding. In Los Angeles, Baumann was an operations manager for a design firm at the original Keystone Studios that specialized in 3-D fabrication while at the same time she pursued her own art practice. Eventually she left the business and became the manager of the studios. Concurrently, she began working at the Broad Museum and was part of the opening crew of Visitor Services, that squad of well-informed employees (don’t call them guards!) who engage with the public and answer questions. When fellow artists on her crew expressed interest in showing their work together, Baumann offered the Keystone Art Space and in January 2016, they held their first show. Six months later, Keystone had shut down and the Visitor Service Associates from the Broad wanted to hold a second show. This time, rather than organizing the event, Baumann thought a newspaper could be her contribution to the show instead. She printed one hundred copies and placed them on a pedestal, to be distributed after the show. That first issue in the summer of 2017 (The Overshare) laid the groundwork for all that followed.
Baumann initially set up a few guidelines that reflect her philosophy as well as her socially savvy personality. If FULL BLEDE had a manifesto, it would likely read as follows: “That all publications are free, that it is free to submit art and that advertising shouldn’t interfere with the content.” Other mandates are that each issue has a theme and that new issues launch at gallery openings or closings. The paper’s name combines the printing term “full bleed” (edge-to-edge printing) and “lede” (the leading news story that pulls the reader in). Baumann explains, “Combined, FULL BLEDE expresses the newspaper’s intent to publish content that is intriguing, unadulterated, and beyond the edge of standardized borders of convention.”
Baumann’s interests are wide-ranging, as evidenced by the themes she has chosen, from an exploration of the concept of the city in issue two, to the current paper, devoted to the notion of the artifact. Addressing the theme of issue five, Baumann wrote on Page 2:
“Each issue of FULL BLEDE invites contributors to expound on a theme. In Issue Five: The Artifact, the broadsheet’s collaborators explore that which remains. For some artifact is a quiet reminder that lingers at present, whether it is outdated or revered. A subtle and sometimes loud ghost of what once was. Artifact also suggestions habits, repeated gestures and behavior. Enjoy this collection of writing, illustration, painting, sculpture, collage, poetry and prose of The Artifact.”….
Baumann concludes in her notes from the publisher, “ I see artifact as the virtuous circle of a desire path. Aspirations leading to tangible results. FULL BLEDE is itself the result of observation and interactions in the past. Artists and writers desire to share work, and here it is, compiled in a tangible form: a broadsheet.”
The current issue of FULL BLEDE includes contributions from Sean Noyce, Kirsteen Pieterse, Forrest Kirk, Kate Drewniak, Nurit Avesar and Molly Segal, among others. Full- page reproductions of paintings contrast with photographs, prose and poetry, all artfully composed. Although printing on newsprint doesn’t enhance the imagery, of greater importance is Baumann’s goal to disseminate ideas and images, to start a conversation.
The broadsheet is clearly a labor of love for Baumann: of the printed page and the artists and poets whom she features. In her inclusive, yet carefully curated paper, the focus is on the artist rather than the galleries and institutions. Baumann has generously created a publication that democratically promotes art and inquiry and encourages community. In the storied lineage of this city’s DIY papers, FULL BLEDE will surely leave an indelible mark on Los Angeles.
For digital downloads of FULL BLEDE, visit http://www.sachabaumann.com/full-blede
Great write up Lorraine… generous and insightful.