Producing a catalogue or monograph to accompany an exhibition in SA costs anywhere from R70,000 for a simple publication to R450,000 for a quality volume. Yet the benefits go well beyond any material investment. Publications “are like postcards that you can open up”, says the Norval Foundation’s head of publishing, Robin Kirsten. They contain all the memories of a show. While works themselves disappear into private collections and homes, books act as mobile ambassadors for a gallery or institution, emitting subtle signals as to status and provenance. “Our books have played a huge role in establishing the gallery as a serious presence, and extending our reach internationally,” says Stevenson director Sophie Perryer. The gallery has produced more than 90 small, almost square soft-cover catalogues in-house since the Stevenson’s first solo show by Guy Tillim in 2003, as well as extensive monographs, including some in partnership with international publishers such as Prestel and Aperture...

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