Once upon a time before Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress, people whose projects combined diy, art, and authorship disseminated their works through xerox machines and the post office. These shoe-string alternative presses were alive and kicking, but lacked a way to take their work to a wider audience. Enter the hero: Mobilivre.
“Mobilivre is a bookmobile project founded by a binational collective based in Montreal and Philadelphia. We traveled across North America annually from 2001-2005 in a vintage 1950 Airstream trailer, retrofitted to carry 300-400 artists books, zines, and indie publications,” explains one of the founding members Onya Hogan-Finlay. The trailer spent six months a year on the road, relying on volunteers and warm-hearted people to provide food and lodging.
“When we stopped, we opened the trailer doors and let the public in,” Hogan-Finlay says. “We were an exhibition on wheels.” Bookbinding, screenprinting, and zine making workshops were held too as the Mobilivre stopped at schools, universities, artists run centres, museums, zine libraries located in larger institutions, as well as music festivals and art festivals. “We also tag teamed with music venues and musician friends of ours who were on tour,” Hogan-Finlay says.
The adventures and memories are countless. A number of collective members realized that a book to capture the memories and spirit of the Mobilivre was an ideal fit. “Soon after it ended, we realized we wanted to make a book,” says Hogan-Finlay. This was all the more pertinent since the original members had largely moved to new places: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland. “We had in our minds that we wanted to document the project in the form of a book, but it’s taken a little while because of the disparate locations.”
Mobilivre’s creators are aware that they affected and touched a lot of people. “We want to create this publication to create some context to what the project was,” says Hogan-Finlay.
“[Mobilivre’s book] includes essays written by people who were very committed and engaged with the project,” says Hogan-Finlay. “There are amazing submissions from tour guides – comics, diary entries from the road and things like that. Mobilivre was a grass-roots, scrappy project. Everyone was a volunteer. They took time off work and hopped in a trailer and drove along. There are fun stories. There are floors of strangers were we stayed. There are misadventures and adventures on the road.
Essays are being contributed by Jon Davies, Andy Cornell, Lauren Jade Martin, Isabelle St. Amand and John Hartmann. Featured artwork is by Ginger Brooks Takahashi. A number of special edition bookjackets are in the works by Meredith Stern, Amy Lockhart, Dominique Petrin, Edie Fake, Peter Burr, Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Chris Duncan.
Making a book takes effort and money. The effort part comes from the work of three editors: Hogan-Finlay, as well as Courtney Dailey and Leila Pourtavaf. Cecilia Berkovic is the graphic designer. “We have lots of skype meetings on Sunday mornings about the publication,” says Hogan-Finlay.
Money will (fingers crossed) come from a Kickstarter campaign. Mobilivre’s team has experience raising money in unconventional ways. “We’re doing everything in our power to make the goal,” says Finlay. “It’s a nail biter and we’re all pulling together to get the word out.”
Finlay emphasizes that the project has a close link to Montreal. “Mobilivre came out of the kind of culture in Montreal in 2000/2001,” she says. “There was a community who was involved in the project. The energy and momentum of that community spurred on our project. In the early days, we parked in front of Cagibi and Le Centrale and Casa del Popolo and through our connections in the community, that’s how the project started. It went from local venue to local venue. It’s authentically a Montreal project.”
Mobilivre’s Kickstarter Campaign can be reached HERE. They are aiming to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of printing, paying graphic designers, writers, translators, and editors. A pledge of $35 or more gets a copy of the book, to be released Spring 2014. The campaign ends February 19, 2014.