"Words, Don't come easy," reads the front inside flap of the latest, Spring 2014, issue of F.R.David. A biannual* journal published by de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam, and edited by designer/writer/artist Will Holder with Ann de Meester and Dieter Roelstraete, F.R.David is "concerned with the management of reading and writing in contemporary art practice," which to reader-me is something of a misnomer, sounds like a grant-money line. I'd say it's more about language as is it connects to the visual: words as objects, words as image-making (like, in the mind's eye, like poetry), and words as used to describe, interpret, etc. the visual, art.
"Words, Don't come easy to me," is the chorus-line of a 1982 pop hit by the Tunisian-born French singer F.R.David, after whom the journal is ostensably named. Emblematic. The journal is all reference and quotation. Few of the texts printed in F.R.David are original; it's composed, rather, of excerpts from publications new and old, up to tens of authors in a single issue.
Issues are edited around themes. Spring 2014: "All distinctions are mind, by mind, of mind." Spring 2013: "For Single Mothers." The pub is kind of like the feminine (or European?) version of Lapham's Quarterly, another thematically-oriented, historically-sensitive periodical anthology, launched in 2007 by former Harper's editor Lewis H. Lapham. Whereas Lapham's is encyclopedic-serious in its design and content, and named after its creator, which is pretty much patriarchy in a nutsac, F.R. David is poetic, tactile, and somewhat inscrutable. Also, shorter, thicker, prettier, and it comes with accessories—two bookmarks per book.
All issues of F.R.David are worth collecting, but this Spring 2014 is a good first. Highlights include a scene from a play by Tony Kushner and woodcuts of the sky by Abra Ancliffe. The thorough-line between all texts is self-perception, which is a delight to read in a publication so self-aware.
*Evidence suggests that F.R.David, like most publications I admire, does not respect its stated schedule, sometimes skips seasons, prints when it can.