[Review] ‘China Meets Norway in a Bookshelf’ – Meridian Picture Book Fair 2017
Meridian Space presents “China Meets Norway in a Bookshelf—Independent Picture Book Fair 2017.” During this festival, from August 23rd to 26th, we exhibited the most original and creative picture books ever produced in China. This time, Meridian, together with Northing — a multifunctional cultural organisation based in Bergen, Norway — had also invited ten Norwegian illustrators and book artists, led by Bergen Zines, an Bergen based organisation with a focus on zine culture and independent publications, to shared with us their works, which accompanied over one hundred Chinese picture books.
In China, picture books are often seen as being exclusively reserved for children. However, the works presented in Meridian’s Independent Picture Book Festival are aimed at all different readerships, regardless of age: innovative, full of literary appeal and visually striking, these books express a spirit of independence and freedom; they stand for the passion and enthusiasm of the young artists who created them. Meridian draws its inspiration from territories beyond the scope of official charts. These are lands in which one may hear the most deeply touching stories, voices that speak to the everyman and resonate with the passions of youth. We know that young people want — and need –to read all different kinds of picture books; but most of all, they are willing to create these books, be they groundbreaking, literary, visually stunning, ironic, playful, fun to read and humorous — or simply, books created for the author’s personal enjoyment.
In June 2016, Meridian launched the first Independent Picture Book Festival. We had the pleasure of receiving over 2,000 visitors in only three days’ time. For 2017 edition, apart from exhibiting books, we also hosted artists talks, readings, worshop, and performances.
Åshild Kanstad Johnsen, who deeply enjoys collecting objects found in nature, introduced audience to her thoughtful log-boy, Kubbe. Fredrik Rysiedal, the leader of the Norwegian Fanzine Society. Apart from launching and organizing the Bergen Art Book Fair, the Draft Comic Festival, and the Bergen Fanzine Evenings, Fredrik had also created two “screen-based comics.” Blended sound effects, experimental music, acting and reading, “Close, Closer, Closest” and “Sound of Aurora” are both graphic novels and unforgettable performances on August 23rd,
Thanks to our partner and co-organiser, Northing, our Independent Picture Book Festival has gained a new international dimension. While staying true to its spirit of originality, creativity, and independence, it now also features cross-cultural exchanges and stimulating encounters between artists of two countries. Northing, along with the organisers of the Bergen Art Book Fair, BergenZines, had brought with them to Beijing an outstanding array of nearly two hundred Norwegian picture books, many of which were published to great acclaim. Together with the Chinese works we gathered, including both published and unpublished books, we exhibited around three hundred works this year. Our special thanks go to C&C Park 77, and the Beijing Offset Printing Factory, for provided us with a space large enough to host this exhibition.
We sincerely hope that you found joy and pleasure from reading the books at the fair, for those who missed the festival this year, welcome to join us Meridian Picture Book Fair 2018!