Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Artists Books (and zines) now

Last night I took part in the first of the Artists' Books Now programme at the British Library

Programme in the form of a concertina artists' book produced for the event.
Assembled by Egidija Čiricaitė and George Cullen

Photo by Jerry Jenkins
I felt like I was infiltrating as I don't make artists' books. By day I'm art librarian and work with special collections and artists' books. But I was there as a zinester and was there to show a different side of self-publishing and the arts I guess. Honestly when I was asked to take part I thought maybe there had been a mistake because I can't stress this enough - I don't make artists' books.



Photo by Jerry Jenkins


But it was a great event and it was really lovely to take part. I was in conversation with the wonderful Eleanore Vonne Brown from X Marks the Bökship as part of a table display with artist Lydia Julien.


Photo by Melanie Grant




I talked about my Me and Bruce zine series because I figured if I got nervous then I could at least talk about why Bruce Springsteen is the hot butch lesbian of my dreams for 20 minutes. I talked about my reasons for making zines and noted that in 20 years of zine making my reason for making zines has always been the same - to find my community. To find my people. To feel connected.






I talked about differences between fanzines and perzines and how they aren't actually that different really, I talked about my inability to write anything personal which is why I frame my perzines through the lens of Springsteen or use diy comics instead. And I talked about the power of self-publishing zines, working very quickly and cheaply to create something meaningful.






It was a great event and I got to hear some wonderful talks by artists I really like even though I did feel like an imposter in the room. A very welomed imposter though as everyone was very lovely and conversations around self-publishing all felt very relevant.



I didn't feel able to answer any of the questions in the q+a at the end as this was very much artists' books focused. But I did find the question from Clive Phillpot funny, who asked if artists' books should really just be called visual books. Because debating the terminology and visual nature of artists' books feels hilarious to me and also unhelpful as the only zinester. I was just very relieved that I didn't have to spend my talk discussing and defining zines in relation to artists' books which I often find myself having to do in a professional capacity. It was refreshing to be able to talk about my work without having to justify it or define my chosen terminology while never once pretending that I made artists' books. 




And if you really want to know my thoughts on defining zines in relation to artists' books and other self published works then you can read my short essay The Economy of Zines.

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