That is the title of my very first zine. My idea is quite simple and I plan an ongoing series.
If you aren’t familiar with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, as a middle-aged woman in a western society that values youthful beauty above all else, I would say I’m not surprised!
I think it was the early 90s, when a very dear friend of mine gave me this little book. Truthfully, everything I understand of wabi-sabi comes from that book. I suspect that quite a few westerners are in the same boat.
The introduction says:
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
To be honest, at the time, I liked the ideas, but I can’t say I consciously pursued them or incorporated them into my artwork. My first art was about accepting things as they are – the good and the bad, the grey areas.
Fast-forward around 10 years, and I found myself in Melbourne doing my mfa. And the title? Process and Change: The Nature of Human Experience. Not surprisingly, a large number of the works included were ephemeral i.e. impermanent. So maybe I have learned a little more about wabi-sabi along the way.
The idea for this book came from some detail photos I took of this. I confess that when I made the zines last year, I was a little confused and I called it a temple. Actually, it is Ueno Toshogu Shrine, built in 1616, and originally it was a part of the much larger Kaneiji Temple “complex”.
The building is absolutely beautiful with its rich red paint that is cracking and the gold paint, so opulent. Apparently the Kaneiji Temple was one of the wealthiest temples in Tokyo in in the Edo Period. When I was there I took a number of close-up photos, trying to record the amazing details to remind myself.
This book is made from one of my favourites and the photo is printed onto a single sheet of paper. I then folded the paper to create an eight-page booklet, a very simple technique. By using a single photo and dividing it into spreads, the reader is made to view the photo more slowly and with more consideration, than if the full image were presented at once. The book deals with ideas of whole and part, slow contemplation and a whole lot more.
So my zine is a little bit conceptual and a quite visual – which probably makes it a huge no-no, in zine-land, but what are rules for if not to be broken?
I’ve made a limited edition of 100 and around 30 have been given away so far. If you think you’d like one, then drop me a line (including your email). If you have a zine you’ve made that you’d like to trade with me, even better, but it’s not a requirement.