Last year, Imprint, the journal of the Print Council of Australia called for zines to include as a give-away in their edition dedicated to artist’s books.
The idea of free art, of making something and letting it go (or just giving it away) really appeals to me. However, that isn’t to say that I don’t want my work to be appreciated. Just freely available.
The idea of making some work and leaving it somewhere in the neighbourhood for someone/people to take has crossed my mind more than once. But this was followed by an image of my poor work being scrunched up and tossed in the bin, so I haven’t acted on the idea.
The zine call sounded good except…I don’t really make zines. And I’m not really that into them. (I think I might be a bit too old…)
At the time of the Imprint call, my contact with zines was fairly limited. I did own one, which I had received for free, given away by Dr Anna Polletti, a speaker at the Freestyle Books Symposium (State Library of Queensland, 2008). The free gifting had impressed me at the time, even though I found the zine itself rather curious.
You can see it above, with its little paper-bag envelope on the right. It’s the musings of “Cry Wolf”, handwritten, on the subject of “pleasure”. It’s written on a page from some sort of sports manual, this page being about competitive walking technique. The whole thing is photocopied (which seems to be the preferred medium for zines) but there is a colour card, like a collector’s card attached. Mine has a picture of a young man looking at a Playboy magazine, and I presume there were a variety of cards included.
So, this was the first zine I had held in my hands, and I have to say that over time, it did begin to grow on me.
The zine-giver, Dr Anna Polletti, is an academic from Monash, and she chaired the zine roundtable at the Impact conference, mentioned by Ronnie on the BAO blog here. Having written a PhD on the topic of autobiography in Australian zines, she can be considered an expert, so you might be interested in this little chat with her from youtube.
Unfortunately I can’t find the notes I took at the symposium, but I definitely left more interested in zines than I had been.
There are a number of things that appeal to me including making art accessible and non-elitist, creating community, and the freedom to pursue off-beat interests (let’s be honest, we all have them!). The difficulty I was facing was that the zine I had been given looked exactly like I thought zines were supposed to look, an aesthetic largely dictated by the use of inexpensive black and white photocopying. And that wasn’t really inspiring me.
I definitely needed to do a bit more research. More to come.