Readers, from poets to artists, had a rare and unique opportunity to view a collection of zines hosted by ALBB Lounge this weekend. Events as special as this come once in a blue moon in Vietnam and ALBB did not disappoint. The works in the collection varied from haphazardly printed and stapled to meticulously crafted, hand sewn bindings and papers. The ALBB Lounge was reconfigured exclusively for this event and the visitor traffic was controlled as to provide everyone with best reading experience. Also on view were magazines and literature from ALBB's permanent collection and a collection of work on-loan for viewing from Atelier Wonderful.
This month, Atelier Wonderful opened on Saturdays, sharing their book collection. For me, these two events/spaces are critical to the long-term enrichment of our arts community. It has been my own personal dream for many years to see events and spaces such as these open to creative minds and discussions. Hopefully, at some point in the future, I may have a space to share my collection of books and magazines once again. For now, I'll be seen lurking around Atelier Wonderful and ALBB. Great job Sue and Motoko!
What are Zines?
(from the ALBB invite)
Zines (pronounced "zeens”) are non-commercial, non-professional publications that are distributed in small quantities. This collection of over 100 zines, contains works created by young visual artists, and many of the zines are unique items. We invite you to come and relax for a few hours over some zines in a casual lounge atmosphere.
Zines have become a part of the cultural landscape in countries like USA and Australia over the past two decades, but have their historical roots earlier in the 20th century, with the magazines and manifestoes of Dada, the surrealists, the situationists and other avante garde art movements; and fanzines (fan magazines) for science fiction and fantasy literature in the 1930s. Other independent publishing influences are the Beat writers and poets of the 1940s and 1950s and the punk rock movement of the 1970s, which benefited from the cheap photocopying technology that became available at that time.
These are low budget but highly individualized publications that come in a wide variety of formats, from raw, messy photocopied styles to delicate hand-crafted objects. Regardless of the aesthetic, zines are always a labour of love, and are produced not to make profit but for the personal reasons of the artist or author. Many are distributed for free, or are bartered with other zine producers. When on sale, most cost between $1 and $5 and can be bought at markets, record stores, concerts, zine symposia or through mail-order. As zine publication is so personal, there is no limit to the kinds of themes that can be covered — art, literature, comics, politics, spirituality, sexuality, music, poetry, science fiction, UFOs… the list is endless. Many of the zines on show this weekend are purely visual, and function more as artworks rather than publications in terms of their personal expressiveness.
Although the word “zine” clearly originates from “magazine”, in many ways zines function as the antithesis of mainstream magazines. Authors invest time and money into producing the zine, rather than publishing with the aim of making a profit; there is no advertising; and the passion, imagination and desire for self expression of the author, rather than market popularity, are the driving forces. Zines are about autonomy and independence. Built into the typical zine aesthetic — cheap paper, stitched together by hand, messily laid out, black & white photocopy — is an oppositional stance to slick mainstream magazines and commodity culture.
ALBB (a little blah blah) is co-directed by Sue Hajdu and Motoko Uda, who have been active in Vietnam for 12 and 5 years respectively. Both visual artists and writers — they work on their own creative projects and also write for local and overseas publications covering areas such as the visual arts, design and urban history. Other areas that keep them busy include curating, research, and consulting for art event management & co-ordination. Sue Hajdu also lectures in Multimedia at RMIT International University Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City campus.
Posted by on February 26, 2006 11:13 AM | Permalink