Founded together with David Reinfurt, Dexter Sinister has variously been a workshop, publisher, and bookstore housed in a basement on New York’s Lower East Side. It was initially set up to model a “Just-in-Time” economy of print production, running counter to the contemporary assembly-line realities of large-scale publishing, avoiding waste, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production, and distribution into one efficient activity.
The project is rooted in Manifesta 6, an art biennial that was due to take place in Cyprus in the summer of 2006. That year’s edition was to be set up as an experimental art school, and we had proposed to establish a working office and publishing imprint in Nicosia for the run of the biennial/school. This was to be named Dexter Sinister, which means right and left in the language of heraldry; and it would produce material and digital resources on demand, from flyers to websites and everything in-between using whatever appropriate technologies we could source locally at the time. The whole endeavor was unfortunately cancelled a couple of months before it was due to begin, but not before we had designed a few bits and pieces including a school badge and its heraldic translation as a motto, “Party Per Bend Sinister,” some printed matter for a pre-emptive gathering on the island, and a Riso-printed book of advance essays by a number of the intended participants, Notes for an Art School (Nicosia: Dexter Sinister, 2006). When the project fell through, we transplanted our ideas to New York instead, where they yielded very different results in the very different context.
From 2006–11, the basement became a bookstore every Saturday, foremost a distribution hub for our house journal Dot Dot Dot and later Bulletins of The Serving Library, then became gradually populated by an ever-broadening selection of publications and host to a diverse range of events, all logged at www.dextersinister.org. But the name was and remains more commonly a working pseudonym for David and myself, for regular—and irregular—design commissions (e.g. Continental Drift, The Contemporary Condition), as well as explorations of publishing in its most expanded sense within galleries, museums, biennials and other contemporary art contexts (e.g. The First/Last Newspaper, The Last ShOt Clock). We have also published several books and other media under the same name: Portable Document Format (Sternberg, 2009), Universal Serial Bus (Sternberg, 2015), On a Universal Serial Bus* (Kunstverein München / Roma, 2015), and Notes on the Type, Time, Letters & Spirits (Stenberg, 2017. Another, YKISHW KCALB, is due for release by Sternberg in late 2023.