If print really is dying, then zines are ensuring that the medium goes out in style, on its own terms. These self-published works have surged in popularity in the Philippines over recent years, with people embracing the zine’s fluidity of format; in an industry that can be rigid about boundaries and target audiences, the zine has little to no regard for catering to mainstream sensibilities or rules of good taste. Consequently, it arguably shares more in common with art pieces than actual, widely circulated publications. But print is print and zines will endure, the rest of the industry be damned.
So it only seems right that more projects like The Zines of Production are coming to light. The work is a collection of zines from ten local artists, edited by Czar Kristoff and Lobregat Balaguer, that works well as both an introduction to the experimental culture of zine-making and as a showcase of the best the medium has to offer—namely, when artists such as those featured are allowed to let loose and take complete control of what they’re creating.
Many zines produced by amateur artists and journalists tend to focus on particular subjects or issues, but The Zines of Production takes a less direct approach in expressing its ideas. The entire collection is bound together like a college thesis—complete with a generic academic cover—seemingly a play on most zines’ expressive covers, or a tongue-in-cheek attempt to look legit to the rest of the industry, or just an admission that no creative cover in the world could properly represent the zines within. Indeed, it would be difficult at best and impossible at worst to draw connections between each of the featured artists’ works, even if most of them are rebellious and subtly frustrated.
Spread from “Holy Shirt” by Tammy David
Instead, the collection draws most of its power from its own format—somewhere between a proper book and an art gallery. The Zines of Production invites you to take your time with every work, but there is also an excitement to the pace that a book offers—the impact of every page turn coupled with the anticipation that there are so many more pages to go.
The collection’s contents are varied and all ripe for multiple viewings. Cru Camara and Kevin Kunishi display photography that challenges our positions as viewers in different ways. Camara uses the constraint of limited space, while Kunishi uses an entire city as his backdrop.
“Bathala” by Kevin Kunishi and “Found Spaces” by Cru Camara
Jem Magbanua and Edreec Sanglap illustrate their contributions to the collection. Magbanua contemplates the fleeting nature of every moment through elements from the environment juxtaposed with graphs and scribbles—like an artist attempting to cage that which won’t be tamed. Sanglap explores arguably the same ideas but through a wordless comic that quickly gets more and more chaotic.
“Unsan Musho” by Jem Magbanua and “Watching my life, passing right in front of my eyes” by Edreec Sanglap
Charles Salazar and Alfred Marasigan use prints and photos in intentionally crude ways, highlighting the absurdity of the contexts that these images operate within. Salazar cuts and pastes clippings from the realms of fashion, culture, and news to create humorous, nonsensical situations. Marasigan relishes in the impossible escapes that kitschy paintings offer.
“Home Decor” by Alfred Marasigan
“Paste Plant” by Charles Salazar
Tammy David and Mac Arboleda take a more pointed approach, directly critiquing certain people in Philippine society and blowing up the absurdity of how we behave in the presence of the powerful. David critiques how religious fervor can turn into caricature, via t-shirts worn during the papal visit. Arboleda attempts to stereotype Marcos apologists through image processing and a lack of regard for privacy—revealing just how varied this group of people really is.
“Holy Shirt” by Tammy David and “The Face of A Marcos Apologist” by Mac Arboleda
Finally, Joseph Pascual and co-editor Czar Kristoff experiment with other media. Pascual’s contribution to the collection is text-heavy, focusing on statements of privilege overheard from all over. Meanwhile, Kristoff presents a series of photographs with a link to a SoundCloud track at the end. Whether or not you are meant to view these photos with the provided music playing in the background is entirely up to you. These are zines, after all.
“Drinking Will Help: Eavesdropped Data on Tropical Privilege” by Joseph Pascual and “Disinformation Express” by Czar Kristoff
“He tried to kiss me! That’s why we’re not so close.” Overheard in Kapitolyo. November 19, 2015. – Excerpt from Joseph Pascual’s “Drinking Will Help: Eavesdropped Data on Tropical Privilege”
The Zines of Production Launch is happening on August 12, 2017 at Pioneer Studios, Mandaluyong. Learn more about the event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/861840027307793/