You are here

"This is what I think, this is who I am": Zine Culture

Reading through a book of Australian street art entitled Space Invaders -- which was funded by the National Gallery of Australia – my attention was directed to an essay about Zine culture in Australia. Aptly titled “Bypassing the System: Zine Culture in Australia”, the essay had an interesting take on how zines have come to be and what they represent as a movement in underground culture.

It got me thinking about how we use zines (or a lack thereof) in North American culture and how they are viewed. The essay defines zines as a medium that “bypasses mainstream consciousness” and that could not be more true than in a place like Canada (or North America), where we are online so much that every picture, every piece of art needs to have a glossy sheen to it provided by a computer screen. Have we lost the organic touch that has come to be represented by the zine?

Zines are really a great way to get information out, as the essay goes on to say “zines are uncomfortable within the walls of institutions. They break laws, they tell secrets, they are fleeting experimentations…They are our reality check of artistic innovation and freedom.” So is a zine so fundamentally ‘counter culture’ that it is engrained in our culture. The zine is the ultimate counter to traditional thinking, and that’s really what we should be embracing. We are always fed news in the same format, over and over again; shouldn’t we begin considering where our information comes from?

Perhaps the zine culture has passed North Americans by, or is there still time for us to warm up to it? There’s no better point that I could make that isn’t made by the essay when it says:

“The use of handwriting in zines emphasizes the immediacy of communication  and reveals its own inimitable aesthetic in its spacing, angles, shapes and slopes and sayus, in that moment, ‘this is what I think, this is who I am.”

And isn’t that moment of truth, of real thought, what’s best for our mental health?