Press Press (est. 2014) is an interdisciplinary publishing initiative based in a storefront studio & library in Downtown Baltimore. Press Press’s publishing practice is organized around two key goals; to shift and complicate the aesthetic and understanding of difference, primarily focusing on immigration and race in the United States; and to build meaningful networks of relationships through publishing practices centered on self-representation and gathering. Press Press’s work pushes for a culture that values the lives, minds, and voices of identities of difference, while building a supportive community that enables us to always thrive.
In 2014, Kimi Hanauer started a residency with Refugee Youth Project by holding creative writing workshops with a group of teens in Catonsville, Maryland. When starting to publish collaborative works, the group realized they needed to give the initiative a name, and so Press Press was born. Since then, we have broadened our activities beyond the after-school program. However, the after-school workshops have continued to be a large thread of our practice as we carry the principles the program was initiated within throughout all of our work: embracing collaboration, self-representation, and difference.
WHAT WE DO
With a focus on immigrant and refugee experiences, Press Press's practice fosters a collaborative network of relationships and surfaces the narratives of Baltimore-based communities. Through an understanding of publishing as the act of gathering a public, Press Press’s streams of work include hosting after-school publishing workshops for refugee teens in an immigrant and refugee only space, public educational and cultural programming, an open-access publishing shop that’s based on an exchange economy, and the on-going production of print and digital publications.
The Press Press library is a collection of resources and publications that were recommended and thematically organized by more than 35 individuals, collectives, and organizations throughout 2016-2017, who each selected a range of resources they deemed most essential their own livelihoods. While the collection was heavily created through a local contingency, it also works in conversation with a national network of artist-organized initiatives. The Library presents a syllabus of texts relevant to artist organizing, independent publishing, social justice, racial equity, and feminism, which influence currently active artists and organizers, both nationally and locally to Baltimore, and informs Press Press’s on-going programs. Located in Press Press’s storefront, the library was created as a way of collectively molding the culture of the space, holding Press Press’s work accountable to it’s context, and building on our approach to public making as the facilitation of a set of relationships.
Through a partnership with Refugee Youth Project since 2014, Press Press hosts publishing workshops with teen refugees in an immigrant and refugee only space. In our program, individual dialects, accents, and expanded modes of communication are embraced, as students are not pressured to assimilate into American cultural and linguistic norms. Our program was created for and by second-language speakers and is based on an understanding of language as a vessel that shapes our own identities and the ways in which we navigate the world around us. As second language speakers, we understand our use of the English language as both a personal and political act.
With Press Press’s Exchange Economy (EE), anyone can learn how to self-publishing their work in our studio, in exchange for any contribution to the broader project. Through the use of time-banking, EE cultivates new programs, resources, workshops, and relationships in our storefront space, while building a community of new and experienced independent publishers. Participants only pay for the use of materials at cost and can choose to participate in one-on-one learning with a member of our team during our weekly open hours.
We publish a range of print and digital publications on an on-going basis that give form to our programmatic and ethereal practice. Our collaborative process often takes upwards of a year to complete one publication and emphasizes social gathering as a primary mode of the work. Our publications vary widely in form, although we are keen to manifestos, conversations, specific artist projects, and gatherings.