Peter Dornauf – 29 May, 2014
From around New Zealand and across the ditch the sheer wealth of material amassed in this show demonstrates that the indie publishing world is alive, well and flourishing. Exhibitions like this and other zine-fests provide a valuable showcase for this burgeoning industry. What mainstream publishers are too cowardly, timid and conservative to print, independents bravely fill the gap and save us from boredom, banality and blandness.
Self publishing projects
SMALL PRESS. Zines: Self-Publishing from Australasia
Curated by Kim Paton and Bryce Galloway
8 May - 23 May 2014
Everyone wants to be a published writer and of course, today, everybody can be courtesy of blog networks, fan-fiction and the like. This is the age of absolute democracy where everyone is famously on stage for their allotted fifteen minutes. All have been given the franchise, (apart from those in fascist states where you can’t even make a happy video); it merely takes a keyboard, the internet and the inclination.
What are zines one could argue but hard copy of the above, plus illustrations, plus a longer formatted text. I know I always want to feel the weight of the hard copy in my hand, physically turn the page, take note of the cover, enjoy the graphics and check out the binding. The binding, in some cases in this exhibition, amounted to little more than a couple of staples or a sewn piece of cotton. In one or two cases it was not even that, just an A4 sheet of paper folded a couple of times - the epitome of DIY, low-tech, number 8 wire. Brilliant.
SMALL PRESS. Zines: Self-Publishing from Australasia, at Ramp, will be over by the time this reaches the electronic newsstand (it was only on for a couple of weeks) but at the opening, indicative of its popularity, there was standing room only as every aspirant and camp follower checked out the merchandise and the range of material on show.
The range ranged from a slip of a pamphlet to professionally thick bound volumes, while the bulk seemed to be made up of short runs in comic-book format. These came in varied qualities, both in graphic production, sophistication of text and grade of paper employed.
There did however seemed to be a plethora of material on the subject of sex. Curatorial bias or simply a reflection on the nature of the authors, one will never know. Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People by Bryce Galloway and Friends was a representative sample. Liberty Comix had a torrid little tale about a complex arm wrestle between Freud and Reich over a virginal maiden. There were R18 graphic images of Homer Simpson having it off with Marge and others, while somewhere else a text read, “It’s not a party until someone cries about a boy not liking them”. My favourite in this oeuvre was a homemade joke book. Example: image of a young man and woman in a state both of undress and intoxication with accompanying speech bubble: “I am still a Christian”… Priceless.
At the more serious end of the spectrum were things like The Means by Which We Find Our Way: Observations on Design, a sizable piece of work on the subject, and a substantial volume called A Collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature, edited by Anton Blank and Kerry Reed-Gilbert. Politics got an airing with a 2007 book on the Urewera raids edited by Valerie Morse, put out by Rebel Press.
There were not many novels in attendance. In fact the only one I spotted was something with a long convoluted title - You Should Have Come Here When You Were Not Here, by Brannavan Gnanalingam. Nor was poetry well represented. Tony Beyer’s collection, Great South Road and South Side, was the only example I saw, which is a crying shame since Hamilton itself has its fair share of self-published novelists and poets but none were in evidence here. Nor was the work of Hamilton’s renowned comic-book guru, Dean Ballinger. Also lacking was any abundance of political satire. I think I saw a couple of New Zealand comic-book examples where John Key and others were being roasted, but that was it.
But from around New Zealand and across the ditch the sheer wealth of material amassed in this show demonstrates that the indie publishing world is alive, well and flourishing. Exhibitions like this and other zine-fests provide a valuable showcase for this burgeoning industry. What mainstream publishers are too cowardly, timid and conservative to print, independents bravely fill the gap and save us from boredom, banality and blandness. Small independent publishers like Ramp Press, Rim Books, Index, Pikitia Press and others, curator Kim Paton rightly points out, “speak to the peripheral edges of publishing where an ethos of originality, independence and opportunities for strange, clever and creative voices can be heard.”
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