Snapshot: Ben Fama on Wonder’s Mall Witch

Ben Fama - WonderInterview by Stephanie Ann Whited

SW: How did your new press Wonder come about?

BF: Wonder was born when I was exceeding the limits of Supermachine, my previous press, in 2011. Its dissolution indicated a shift in my interests toward digital art and multimedia writing. After many conversations, Andrew Durbin joined me as an editor at Wonder. We will produce single author books and limited edition pamphlets for one-off art events we host around New York City. I’m also going to be curating artist talks at culturefix gallery this Fall. Our biggest project now is an artist book called Mall Witch, which is part of a larger gallery production. The gallery curator is currently running a Kickstarter for that.

SW: What’s the Kickstarter goal and what will contributions help you achieve? What’s in it for the project backers?

BF: The gallery organizer, operating under the name Snowy Wilderness, is trying to raise $3,500 to print books and produce everything needed for the gallery show and its promotion, performance fees, and other logistical things like that. I believe the rewards are very balanced. All donors get a Mall Witch poster signed and #’d from the designer. You can get the Mall Witch book for $30. Receive a portrait of yourself hand drawn by artist and author Paul Legault. For $75 you can come see the show at the private press showing a day early, plus you get everything else offered before. The campaign ends September 6th, 2012.

SW: Wonder is mysterious. From the sexy Facebook posts, I’ve gathered its color is pink, and it may somehow be connected with pyramids like your uninstalled Supermachine. What’s the driving force behind Wonder?

BF: Wonder probably seems mysterious because the press name has been announced but other than that no books have formally been discussed until now. Mall Witch will be out in November 2012 in tandem with a gallery show of the same name at culturefix, on the Lower East Side. The book is a manuscript of poems I wrote that is heavily indebted to several of my obsessions—high fashion, the Internet, sexual psychology, advertising, #seapunk, and poetry itself. It’s going to be full color and it’s being designed by Paul Legault and Joseph Kaplan. Next spring we will publish Kate Durbin’s The Fashion Issue. We are working on a chapbook of erotica titled Doe. Just this spring we released a pamphlet called ♥ This Will End In Tears ♥.

As far as “inspiration” and that sort of thing, The internet, particularly Tumblr, is rich with its own aesthetic. You could spend hours there as you would walking around a museum. I’m positive Facebook changed its platform to handle larger images for this reason. The Wonder Facebook page is an online playground for Andrew and I to have fun and talk to people sharing our affinities.

SW: The name Mall Witch is a striking mix of archetypal and pop imagery. Does this occur in the piece as well?

BF: Myself and the creative directors of the Mall Witch gallery show and I had been turning over a few working titles early in the project. When we had to decide between “Mall Witch” and the titles we didn’t end up using, we realized “Mall Witch” had become incantatory of the trends occurring in the book, the vibe of the work, and that we would miss it. When soliciting artists for the show, we’ve cited the internet, Tumblr, Tavi Gevinson, love, simulation, drag queens, Baudrillard, internet celebrity, Mykki Blanco, pixelation, Second Life, and also life itself.

SW: What’s to come for Wonder in the future?

BF: Hopefully lots of champagne. We are working with Printed Matter on an event, and something for FW/SS ‘13 at Housing Works.

Fur - Ben Fama

– Stephanie Ann Whited