It all sounded good.
This summer and fall you are invited to contribute to the creation of an open-access publishing house, a “Free Press,” to be launched at Röda Sten contemporary art center in Göteborg, Sweden. A project of artist Sal Randolph, Free Press will accept all kinds of writing from the public; contributions in any language can be as short as a single word or as long as an encyclopedia and can include manifestos, statements, documentations, studies, stories, recipes, poems and whatever you can imagine.
All participating manuscripts will be published as printed books in the Free Press series, available in the project’s library and reading room at Röda Sten, where events and discussions will also take place. Additional copies will be placed on shelves in local bookstores and libraries. Readers will be able to download copies from the website and order them at cost from an internet book printer.
A project to create a free press, a series of books, all available to the public to share as they want, with total freedom for anyone to contribute, lead by a highly acclaimed artist? FANtastic!
And then it wasn’t.
After six years and thirty volumes, the entire Free Press project disappeared from the Internet in 2013, replaced only by the enigmatic webpage stating “Free Press is currently undergoing maintenance. We will be back shortly.”
It’s been ten years now and that web page has not changed. Artist Sal Randolph has moved on to other award-winning projects and likely has neither need nor inclination to revisit the project.
We think it’s too important to let vanish.
As Randolph wrote then, “Even in the age of the internet, book publishing is a walled garden where editors and commercial interests filter out most of what is written.” How true. That was 2001. It’s far worse now.
Here’s a trebuchet missile to crack that wall: Volume 1 of the Free Press project, Free Words. You’re on your own for the other twenty-nine volumes.