Blank Cheque Press
Vancouver, BC , British Columbia
Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross is a writer based in Vancouver, the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and art criticism have appeared in BOMB, Mousse, Fence, C Magazine, Kijiji, and elsewhere, and her chapbooks include Mayonnaise and Drawings on Yellow Paper (with Katie Lyle), both self-published from 2016. She publishes books by emerging artists and writers under the small press Blank Cheque, and is currently at work on a novel and a collection of short stories.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
Blank Cheque Press is a small press based in Vancouver that is dedicated to the publication of art writing in its many forms. This includes but is not limited to plotless fiction, eccentric art criticism, messy philosophical treatises, urgent poetics, esoteric writing by artists, and book projects that otherwise run parallel to artists’ practices. All publications are edited, designed, printed and bound by writer Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross in her 63-square-foot studio in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood, with the help of family and friends. The project began circa 2016 following a publishing residency at Publication Studio Vancouver.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
The ability to do things spontaneously, remaining flexible to the needs and interests of a community of artists, writers, and critics.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
I’m continuously surprised by the ways that Blank Cheque has touched and circulated in the world—especially considering I often only make about 100 copies of a title (sometimes I wonder, how did all these people even get their hands on a copy, never mind find it interesting enough to write about or respond to?). I do think the project captures something of the vast activity that is already occurring in the visual art community in so-called “Canada”—a movement that continues the parallel text tradition in the visual arts, and manifests in recent years as an ever-growing number of poets or fiction writers that are invited into the pages of art criticism magazines—and in this way becomes a useful touchpoint for these readers.
Blank Cheque’s audience remains primarily a visual art one, and because of my own more personal interests in creative writing, but also visual art and critical art writing, it becomes a platform for spill over between all of these communities.
Tell us about three of your publications. What makes them special, needed, and/or unique?
Art Criticism & Other Short Stories is an anthology of “visual art fanfiction” zines originally edited and published by artist Helen Reed between 2011 and 2018. The fifteen essays and stories collected in the anthology oscillate between academic writing and diaristic confession, all imagining some kind of new and/or imaginary relationship with (real) artists or artworks.
The Mexican Husband / Un Marido Mexicano is a short, one-act play by artist Fabiola Carranza. An adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s 1937 The Jewish Wife, Carranza’s version is a timely reflection on identity, exclusion, and the politics of borders through the eyes of an undocumented husband’s last night at home in Los Angeles before running for the Mexican border.
Tacita Dean’s Wanderlust, the latest issue in the ongoing Ecstatic Essays pamphlet series, is an essay by Laura Demers on utopian architecture, ruins, and cinematography as they relate to the artist Tacita Dean’s research and documentation of the abandoned “Bubble House” on the Cayman Islands.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
I’m going to be thinking about ways to further highlight the work of BIPOC artists and writers in future and upcoming projects. Stay tuned!
ART CRITICISM & OTHER SHORT STORIES
Edited by Helen Reed
With contributions by Rose Bouthillier, Amber Dawn, Jen Delos Reyes, Amy Fung, Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen, Onya Hogan-Finlay, Ariana Jacob, Sam Korman, Vanessa Kwan, Hazel Meyer, Dan Nelson, Darren O'Donnell, Carmen Papalia, Helen Reed, and Maya Suess
ORAL LIKE CLOAKS, DIALECT
2nd Edition, 2018
Selected Writing by Tiziana La Melia
ECSTATIC ESSAYS SERIES
2016 – ongoing
An ongoing series of pamphlets presenting nuanced opinions on obscure or not-so-obscure icons in arts and culture.
#1 - Nell Zink Is Damn Free by David Bradford
#2 - Thom Gill's Now & Neverending by Fan Wu
#3 - Ozu's Seasons by Casey Wei
#4 - The Mastication of Alina Szapocznikow by Jenine Marsh
#5 - Tacita Dean's Wanderlust by Laura Demers