These are images from my pop-up #zinelibrary at #GoddardCollege during the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts residency this past July. It was part of my graduating presentation of my MFA portfolio, which emphasized critical, in-depth, democratic art forms. These qualities are not encouraged in our culture and media today.
Zines create autonomous spaces for both creator and reader. Not autonomous as in separate and sealed off from the world. But autonomous as in owning and controlling the means of our own thoughts and expression. Zinesters don't need your corporate sponsors. Zinesters don't seek to own and create your thoughts and expressions with algorithms. Zinesters dont' steal your identity, reduce it, and sell it back to you.
Zines are the original open source platform. They are more relevant than ever in a world in which the logic of capitalism dominates more and more of our lives. The radical freedom inherent in their production, distribution, and contemplation continues to bring people to these analog spaces.
However, we are tied to social networks and other modern technology, even as it is only used to materially benefit a few. The zines that have inspired me the most have always been sharply political -- critiques that are hard to appropriate into the cultural hegemony of mainstream media because of their bold dissensus. Yet, such critiques are deserving of platforms bigger than what trading and collecting zines can accomplish.
So, perhaps, zines are more of a question than an answer to the problems capitalist domination of knowledge, communication, and democracy. I want to continue to create and support zine libraries as experiments in not only critical, democratic art forms but communications technology. What would happen if knowledge and communications were free -- not because of ad sponsorship but because society collectively supported it? What would happen if knowledge was curated with a social purpose instead of a commercial one? What if we all felt truly free to express ourselves - without fear of mass surveillance and persecution, the censorship of corporations and institutions, or the anxiety of having to sell ourselves? What if we took the time to go deeper with a topic, spend pages, instead of characters, writing and reading about it? Maybe society would be better, maybe society would be worse, or maybe it would be a bit of both. Regardless, I invite you to make a zine, share it with people, and, perhaps, get a glimpse of these possibilities.
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I am an interdisciplinary artist who brings together images, narratives, and social theory to reveal the lived and imagined systems that construct our lives.