Think cultural commentary in Xerox aesthetics.
There’s always something appealing in a project that makes print fun, fresh, and just a little bit subversive. The Zines of Production (ZOP) was launched at Artbooks.ph last August 12, and with each title is a nicely folded, two-and-a-half-page-long publisher’s note talking about Xerox aesthetics and decolonizing the printed object.
Co-published by Hardworking, Goodlooking and Artbooks.ph, and edited by artist and designer Lobregat Balaguer and photographer Czar Kristoff, the project presents the works of artists Mac Andre Arboleda, Cru Camara, Tammy David, Czar Kristoff, Kevin Kunishi, Jem Magbanua, Alfred Marasigan, Joseph Pascual, Charles Salazar, and Edreec Sanglap.
Here, monochromatic photos of painted trees silently alluded to fake news in the Philippines (Kristoff). One work compiled the funniest, silliest, and raunchiest conversations overheard in “spaces of relative privilege in Manila” (Pascual). The issue of Marcos apologists resurfaced through selfies of netizens hoping to win a date with Sandro Marcos (Arboleda). And if you want records of our religious fervor, or visual culture laced with our kink for kitsch, one zine compiled T-shirts worn during the 2016 papal visit (David), and another on holographic paintings, reminding us of familiar pastoral worlds existing only on our grandmas’ walls (Marasigan).
The 10 zines here were originally compiled in an anthology, a hardbound edition whose cover had all the prettiness of your usual college thesis. Months after it was launched at the LA Art Book Fair, the publishers then chose to release the individual zines, where the artists, according to Balaguer, “chose more individualized paper stock and proposed personalized processes.” Take for instance, the zines of Kristoff and Camara which, as Kristoff puts it, “smells like soap, or maybe flowers.”
While most zines now are often produced as individual DIY projects, the editors of ZOP intended for the output to be made through the effort of a community. Even their distribution of profits entails communal sharing, with the return on sales split 60-40 between the artists and Artbooks.ph.
From the content, to the production process to the sharing of profits, ZOP means to be (in Karl Marx’s terms) a little less exploitative or just less predictable than the industry already is. It’s fresh, if not original, whether you read it as a commentary on our colorful cultural clichés or our collective imaginary in the form of recorded chismis. In the wake of glossies, ZOP may just be bringing back the long lost ethos of the printed word: always say something worthy of being heard.
The launch of The Zines of Production took place on August 12 at Pioneer Studios. For details on how to purchase these zines, check out artbooks.ph.