Events > Book Launch

10 Nov. 2007

Book launch for George Saia's Shoe Journal

Jorge Zontal, General Idea, and Robert Fones
2 pm - 5 pm

Art Metropole is pleased to announce a book launch for its newest publication, General Idea’s Shoe Journal by George Saia, with an inserted introduction by Robert Fones.

George Saia, one third of General Idea, and better known as Jorge Zontal, was a compulsive doodler. He employed a curvilinear style compounded with obsessive repetition and elaboration. The Shoe Journal explores the shape of the stilleto shoe, later to become a General Idea motif. As Robert Fones writes in his introduction:

At last, in its bound form, Shoe Journal can be read as it was intended: as a consecutive series of drawings and images constituting a journal of the first six months of 1971. The text is not a chronology of events but a chronology of experience. The first found illustration triggered a frenzy of drawing as Jorge Zontal searched for the ideal graphic form of the shoe motif, and then repeated the icon page after page with minor variations. His alphabet had one letter but each version recorded the nuance of the moment and the progress of Zontal’s inventive mind. On the last page of the book the configuration of shoes suggests the format of a letter, each shoe assuming the role of a word in an esoteric shoe language, and ending with a shoe signature.

Shoe Journal was originally printed in 1971 by The Coach House Press, Toronto, as one of their Snore Comix series, edited by Michael Tims (later AA Bronson, also of General Idea), but was never bound or released. The loose signatures (originally about 200, of which 120 remain), hung around General Idea’s studios for decades. More recently, artist Robert Fones proposed to complete the project as an Art Metropole publication. Under his direction, Shoe Journal has been hand bound in a letterpress foil-stamped simulated leather cover by Reg Beatty. Twenty-six years after it’s original printing, the book will be launched on Saturday, 10 November 2007 between 2-5pm. Please join us to celebrate the fruit of cross-millennial procrastination.

Shoe Journal by George Saia.

1971/2007. Offset, black and white, 64pp, plus hand-bound simulated leather cover, foil stamped, with letterpress inset: 15.6 × 10.9 × 1cm.

Contains insert by Robert Fones, Reading Shoe Journal, 2007, photocopy on paper: folded, 15.1 × 10.3 cm; unfolded, 15.1 × 41.2cm

Rubber-stamp signed, numbered, edition of 100, plus 18 APs and 1 PP. $150

Jorge Zontal , born Slobodan Saia-Levy, Parma, Italy, 1944-94.

General Idea was a collective of three Canadian artists, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson, who were active from 1967 to 1994. As pioneers of early conceptual and media-based art, their collaboration became a model for artist-initiated activities and continues to be a prominent influence on subsequent generations of artists. Initially working in Toronto, from 1968 through 1993 they divided their time between Toronto and New York before returning to Toronto for the last few months of their time together.

General Idea’s work inhabited and subverted forms of popular and media culture, including beauty pageants, boutiques, television talk shows, trade fair pavilions and mass media. Their work was often presented in unconventional media forms such as postcards, prints, posters, wallpaper, balloons, crests and pins. From 1987 through 1994 their work addressed the AIDS crisis, with work that included some 75 temporary public art projects. Their major installation, One Year of AZT/One Day of AZT, was featured as a project at the Museum of Modern Art and now resides in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. In 2006 the three giant inflatable pills from their 1991 work PLA©EBO were displayed during Toronto’s Nuit blanche.

After publishing FILE magazine for two years and amassing a large collection of artists books and multiples, General Idea founded Art Metropole in 1974, a non-profit space dedicated to contemporary art in multiple format: artists books, multiples, video, audio and electronic media.
Retrospectives of General Idea’s work continue to tour Europe and North America. General Idea Editions: 1967-1995 was featured at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain from 30 January – 1 April 2007, and included a recreation of the installations Magic Bullet and Magic Carpet, as well as the major installation Fin de Siècle. Before that Editions was exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Munich Kunstverein, Kunstwerke (Berlin), and the Kunsthalle in Zurich, Switzerland. General Idea has been featured in the Paris, Sydney, São Paulo and Venice Biennales, as well as at Documenta 10 in Kassel, Germany.

Both Partz and Zontal died of AIDS in 1994. Bronson continues to work and exhibit as an independent artist, and was the director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York between 2006 and 2011. The General Idea Archive now resides at the Library of the National Gallery of Canada.

Born in London, Ontario in 1949, Robert Fones had his first solo exhibition in that city at 20/20 Gallery in 1969 and was also a founding member of Forest City Gallery in London. Since 1976 he has lived and worked in Toronto where he has exhibited regularly. He is represented by Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto. He has also shown work at other artists- run centers, commercial galleries and public institutions. A ten-year survey exhibition of his work was organized by The Power Plant in 1989. Fones has exhibited throughout Canada and internationally in the United States and Germany. His work is in The National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario and other public and corporate collections.

Robert Fones has worked in a variety of media including sculpture, painting, woodblock printmaking and photography. In his work he has investigated the transition from manual to industrial production; disclosed hidden processes of geological and cultural change; and exploited the innate ambiguities of photographic and painted pictorial space. The latter theme is exemplified by Head Paintings, one of many artists books that Fones has published with Coach House Press and Art Metropole. The book is typeset in Fones-Caslon, a typeface he designed specifically for this publication. A number of his works use type in combination with photographs or pictorial representations.

Robert Fones is an active participant in the Toronto art community. He has served on the board of The Art Gallery of Ontario, C Magazine Foundation and the Acquisitions Committee of the Design Exchange. In 1990 he curated an exhibition for The Power Plant on the work of Toronto furniture designer, Russell Spanner. In 2011, he curated Cutout: Greg Curnoe, Shaped Collages 1965–1968 for Museum London.

Robert Fones has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, and in the Art and Art History Program at Sheridan College. He has also published numerous reviews and articles in Vanguard, C Magazine, Parachute and other publications.

  1. George Saia - Shoe Journal