The Detroit Printing Co-Op
A timely exploration of political organizing, publishing, design and distribution in 1970s Detroit
In 1969, shortly after moving to Detroit with wife and partner Lorraine Nybakken, Fredy Perlman and a group of kindred spirits purchased a printing press from a Chicago dealer, transported it, in parts, back to Detroit in their cars and the Detroit Printing Co-op was born.
Operating between 1969 and 1980 out of southwest Detroit, the Co-op was the site for the printing of the first English translation of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacleand journals like Radical America, produced by the Students for a Democratic Society; books such as The Political Thought of James Formanprinted by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; and the occasional broadsheet, such as Judy Campbell’s stirring indictment, “Open letter from ‘white bitch’ to the black youths who beat up on me and my friend.”
Fredy Perlman was not a printer or a designer by training, but was deeply engaged in the ideas, issues, processes and materiality of printing. While at the Detroit Printing Co-op, he radically rethought the possibilities of print by experimenting with overprinting, collage techniques, different kinds of papers and so on. Behind the calls to action and class consciousness written in his publications, there was an innate sense of the politics of design, experimentation and pride of craft.
Building on research conducted by Danielle Aubert, a Detroit-based designer, educator and coauthor of Thanks for the view, Mr. Mies, The Politics of the Joy of Printingexplores the history, output and legacy of the Perlmans and the Co-op in a highly illustrated testament to the power of printing, publishing, design and distribution.