The Self Publish, Be Happy Collection finds a new home at the MEP in Paris
London, 29 September 2020
In 2010, I started Self Publish, Be Happy as a response to an economic and cultural shift, one that had prompted the emergence of an exciting new generation of photographers and self-publishers. Since then, I have been incredibly fortunate to witness – and even perhaps contribute to – the growth of an international community of photographers, artists and publishers that has reshaped and re-energised both the publishing industry and photography at large.
The large and unique collection of self-published books we have compiled over the past decade is proof of that phenomenon. Today, I’m extremely proud to announce that the Self Publish, Be Happy Collection will be moving to a new home at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, France. This move will allow MEP to not only to catalogue, care for and preserve for posterity the collection’s thousands of photobooks, zines and ephemera, but most importantly, it will make them all accessible to the general public for the first time. It is thrilling to pass the baton to a museum so committed to emerging artists, one with a vast library that will also be able to bring the collection to a wider public through talks, exhibitions and scholarly studies.
It feels particularly meaningful that this move will take place during our tenth anniversary year and in this tumultuous social and historical time when community feels more important than ever. Because it has always been my great belief that books create social spaces, both in their making and in their sharing. It’s a phenomenon I first witnessed – with a feeling of astonishment – during our inaugural reading room at The Photographers’ Gallery in London a decade ago. Since then, I have seen them create communities again and again at book fairs, bookshops, workshops and libraries around the world. Not to mention online, where unexpected alliances and groups have flourished and continue to be essential for the survival of our industry. As we all navigate this tempestuous time, full of threats and possibilities, I hope that the Self Publish, Be Happy Collection will continue to operate as a catalyst of ideas and exchange from within a major public institution.
Today’s announcement is also a chance for Self Publish, Be Happy and me to renew our commitment to the photography community. This move will allow us to put a greater focus on our expanding publishing activities and an educational programme that is engaging more and more people from across the world. More than ever we believe that our mission is to support artists and to create environments that foster new ideas and new visions. Self Publish, Be Happy has always championed voices from outside mainstream publishing. We have given them tools to make their own worlds, and now it is all the more essential to find ways of incorporating diverse perspectives into these efforts. We continue to believe that photography and publishing can and must be forces for change.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank personally everybody who has contributed to making the collection what it is: the self-publishers who entrusted us with their work; our amazing volunteers and employees whose devotion and commitment to our mission has always been so absolute; and the organisations and individuals who have provided us with much-needed support over the years. Finally, I want to offer a special thank you to Simon Baker who has welcomed the collection to the MEP.