On The Unique Powers of Zines: (Mini)nterview with Alyson del Pino
October 12, 2018
Alyson del Pino (C’21) and Jacob Kind (C’20) will host Zine Rave, a collective zine-making event, this upcoming Tuesday.
Date: Tuesday, 10/16 Time: 6:00-7:00 PM Where: Kelly Writers House
How would you describe a zine in a six-word story?
I’ll do three: A self-published moment.
What’s your favorite zine in Kelly Writers House Zine Library?
My favorite zine right now is one we picked up at the New York Art Book Fair. It’s called Little Rain. It has no words, and it’s basically a tiny, illustrated flipbook of a rainstorm at night. It’s a perfect example of one of the unique powers of zines: it contains in a codex, in what I can only describe as poetry-through-images, a moment you can so easily feel but find difficult to express in words. Before showing it to my friend, I warned her that it would be heartbreaking. After she flipped through it: “At first I couldn’t understand why you would call it that, but yeah. My heart feels broken now.”
What do you do as a zine curator?
This is a very hard question! I think any kind of library curation is a decision not just in what to showcase and highlight, but what to preserve, especially with something so ephemeral as zines. Our jobs as curators are three-parted: education, creation, and acquisition. Education through the workshops we hold, creation through student funding, and acquisition through fairs and distros. What I personally look for in a zine is, practically, that form follows function (it is a zine to be intractable in some way, or to be necessarily material), and more abstractly, that it makes me think in a new way about a familiar thing (like, for example, rain!).
Do you have any zine recommendations?
Yes! I have a handful I can recommend in full confidence:
At the KWH Zine Library:
- Cicada Soup, by Taehee Whang
- I Spy, by Alli Katz
- I’m Literally Obsessed with Kim Kardashian, by Liz Barr
- Genotype, by James Bascara
- Backyard BBQ, by Jess Caldwell
- Drinking Alone with the Moon, an illustrated translation by Jia Sung
I think zines are capable of a lot that other, more mainstream forms of content-publishing aren’t. An artwork’s materiality is such an important part of meaning-making. The choice to publish something physically or digitally (or both), the specific material of a physical publication and its form (size, binding): all of these are decisions in meaning-making. Zines are valuable not just because you can self-publish: they surpass that. There are so many ways to self-publish. Zines are necessarily material in a world of digital content. They do really radical things in the millennia-old form of the codex. They are just that much less traceable than born-digital work. These are all tools in an artist’s belt.
They are also, to me, so beautiful. The idea of someone taking the time to make something physical is already a heart-warming and inspiring thing. So is that they’re doing it fully aware of its ephemerality. But most of all, books as innovative forms of expression just get me. I can’t explain it. They are beautiful and moving in a way that few other things are.