Earlier this week I co-facilitated a zine making workshop with fellow leeds researchers Helen Graham and Carley Stubbs. The workshop aimed to help us explore how we might do, think and feel ‘inclusion’, as part of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage's theme 'The Status of Inclusion'. This was a practice-led session where we created a zine in order to be published.
A key concern of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage ‘Status of Inclusion’ research theme is to be attentive to the ways in which inclusion and exclusion happen through lived and felt interactions, always entangled with the social, material and institutional practices and forms of art galleries, museums and heritage.
In this workshop, we were interested in using a specific form – zining making – and using the process of us working collaboratively to create a zine to ‘do’ inclusion with each other. Through this experiential and making method we generated specific reflections and interventions which will feed back into our research theme.
The aim was to explore the ways in which zine making is a practice that relies on both inclusions and exclusions. Zines operate with inclusive ideas of production in the sense that anyone can make a zine, zining requires no institutional support and take no prescribed form. At the same time, zining also deliberately plays with exclusions. Zines are not produced for ‘the public’ or a general audience and instead tend to be developed with a defined and particular audience in mind. Therefore zines stand as a crucial counterpoint to the tradition of art galleries and museums as spaces for institutionally-managed engagement with people abstractly defined as visitors or publics or the more recent traditions of identifying specific underrepresented audiences via demographics in order to actively develop programmes of ‘inclusion’.
I am currently putting the zines together and will publish on my blog once completed!
More on zines!
Zines (pronounced ‘zeens’) are self-published, low-budget, non-profit DIY print publications. There are no hard and fast rules to what a zine should look like, but they mostly are photocopied or uniquely printed booklets, stapled or bound in a creative way, featuring text (typed or handwritten) and images (photos, cut and paste, drawings). As well as looking very different to the average publication, the content and subject of zines also varies hugely. They can be filled with diatribes, reworking of pop culture iconography such as art, sport, gaming, television and ‘all variety of personal and political narratives’ (Piepmeier, 2008, p.214). Once created, zines are distributed in various ways. Sometimes zines are created and distributed with a small niche community of existing friends and other zinesters, other times they circulate in and beyond their original communities and can be traded or sold via zine distributors (known as distros), at zine fairs, record shops and also found in community spaces such as libraries. With no regular copy schedule, subscription list, international book numbers, or professional print jobs, most cut-and-paste zines circulate through informal distribution networks, which highlights not just the materiality of the object, but also of its engagement. In short zines challenge notions of what knowing might be and who might be the peers which determine its legitimacy.