Free Zines

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The zine’s humble beginnings can be traced back to the 1920s where sci-fi fans began writing about their interests and distributing their writings in small publications known as fanzines. This term, “fanzine,” would eventually get shortened to “zine.” However, despite the beginning of the terminology and format we are familiar with today, it is possible that historical political works like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet series or Vladimir Lenin’s Iskra newsletter also fall under the umbrella term “zine.” Despite time and place, zines are an act of democracy; a from-below written and/or visual project that describes an attitude, a perspective, a vision.

The zine/fanzine/pamphlet has always found a welcome mat at the doors of subcultures.  Beginning in the 1970s, underground punk scenes produced a new fervor around the production of fanzines. This is a practice that continues today; there is a vibrant tradition of cultural zine-making relating to music, tv and film genres, video games, etc. Independent comics often take the form of zines or have their beginnings in them. Radical politics find uses for zines as propaganda and alternative information resources. Now, zines are more widely available and shared due the technological age we live in. Zines’ DIY(do-it-yourself)  nature allows them to be shared digitally and if so desired, printed and bound at will.

The artists featured in this show work in variety of mediums, none of which are solely “the zine.” The zine, is, in fact, a far cry from the type of work artists are indoctrinated to make by institutions and the market. In this sense, the zine takes on a particular class dimension in relationship to the publication formats or artist forms of civil society. Yet, our motivations for writing something like horror fanfiction zines may spawn from the same drive that mobilizes us to study and make “fine art” about fear, trauma, experiences of the subaltern or other, etc.  We seek to share our stories. Zines can be made by, seen by, and distributed to the myriad. Our collective creative desires are scribbled, or cut and pasted, or digitally created and thrust upon the world without any expectation of what will come next. There is something liberating in this metabolic process of creation and consumption, something that can only be found in the spontaneous human experience. We are excited to share our life processes, our imperfections and the messiness of our worlds with you.

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