Filed under: Paper Pusher | Tags: East Village, New York City, Professor Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery, Public Illumination Magazine, zines
Below is a brief interview with Professor Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery, editor of Public Illumination Magazine (PIM) conducted via email.
Q: How did you organize the zines? Seeing as you had an open call but many return writers, how did you fit it all in?
A: A ruthless red pen and an editor’s sensibility.
Q: What’d you do with the content you turned down?
A: Regret that it didn’t fit.
Q: Are contributors international, or from a particular region?
A: Mostly US, some Italy.
Q: What inspired the beginning of this zine?
A: Collaboration with other artists.
Q: What spurred the themes?
Q: Are there any more recent issues from 2014?
A: “Fortune” is coming soon.
Q: Are there any other notes you have for me that are important about how you made the zine, its evolution, its importance, where it fits in or doesn’t with other zines, etc?
A: Dogged perseverance and a little help from my friends, 57 issues & 34 years later…
My adoration of Public Illuminations Magazine, or PIM, started several years ago when, against my instinctual avoidance of miniature items I might clumsily crush, I was drawn to the irrevocably small item at Printed Matter. The pocket-size, glossy pages of PIM were like a Siamese cat perched in a book shelf: camouflaged among its sculptural surroundings yet exotically deliberate.
PIM emerged in December 1979 for $0.50. It was a twelve-page booklet, edited by Professor Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery and created in Manhattan. The zine was an East Village staple throughout the 80s, printed first on Grand Street then on Lafayette. Starting in 1987, PIM was ejected from an Italian printer, and has been produced by Casa Sorci since 1996. The zine, hosting both art and writing acquired from open submissions, appeared at intentionally unpredictable intervals— what began as a monthly became bimonthly, then quarterly, bi-annually, and currently “occasionally” published. Less than ten issues total appeared in the 1990s, but the publication currently appears to be making a bi-annual comeback.
PIM’s compressed tangents, stuffed into a demure eleven-by-seven centimeter construct of varying page counts, are at the behest of singular themes. As far as I can tell, one aspect is exclusively non-negotiable: authors need only provide a pseudonym for their work. Current submissions have a maximum word count of 275, although originally 250 was the cap. Haikus, frank first-person renditions, and third-person mysteries are the meat of these coconuts. The ability to reduce each issue’s categorical framework, to chirp two-cents from global contributors with complete freedom, is the zine’s strength. In the past, they have taken on heavy topics such as “Contraception,” “The Truth,” “Cosmetic Mutilation,” and “Excess;” conversely, “Tongues,” “Vermin,” and “Fun” have also been addressed. Their editorial creed, which appears solely in issue 9 from September 1980, is a clear indication of their goals: to “[exist] on empathy,” publishing work “rendered with conviction, yet maintaining an observational distance” in order to provoke the reader.
The earliest issues from 1980 and 1981 are heavily saturated with images, including satirical imaginary advertisements created by Hignett’s for wart hogs (May 1980, issue 6, “Livestock”) and “vice vines” (August 1980, issue 8, “Habits”). With no tangible sponsors to consider, PIM’s format is an unwieldy nymph. The magazine’s alternative typography and page design are like irreverent, indecipherable conversations from a herd of cows— a disorienting snatcher of silence and order. Like my desire to fashion a font that expressed my psychic self in the fourth grade, however, these tactics reflect an evolving interest in stimulation, in ways in which text, image, and concept might unite. The first color issue, with violet blocks of color framing each page and accenting both visuals and text, appeared in May 1981 for issue 14, “Rejects.” The printing process continued to evolve from that moment: some issues became completely monochrome (July 1981, issue 16, “Pain & Sorrow,” among others); some embraced tricolor printing (September 1981, issue 17, “Excess,” for example). The most recent innovation has been the introduction of a patterned background repeated throughout, which first appeared in early 1993’s issue 41, “Underwear.” At the end of 1980, PIM began a subscription series, distributing to the likes of Zimbabwe, London, New York, and California, among others.
PIM continues to accept submissions from writers and artists, but the rules for anonymity still stand. Loyal contributors including Sparrow, Sophie D. Lux, U Bett, and Leadbilly counteract the fanaticism of celebrity scribblers with their wit. Staunch opinions and cerebral musings frame a collective consciousness seeking to infuse humor into listless, branded content. Thirty-four years worth of contributions emulsified this antipasti of the written word—you have your tart pickled peppers and fatty meats, slobbering tales told over two bottles of wine and brief conversations banished to the writer’s mind for analysis whilst walking to the train. To quote Drake, it was “more than what [I] bargained for and nothin’ less than real”—one steaming brick of experience.
Filed under: Ramblings, Treatz | Tags: Photography, Torbjørn Rødland, Triple Canopy
“Sentences on photography by Torbjørn Rødland”
After rationalism and mysticism—twenty lines.
- The muteness of a photograph matters as much as its ability to speak.
- The juxtaposition of photographs matters as much as the muteness of each.
- All photography flattens. Objectification is inescapable.
- Photography cannot secure the integrity of its subject any more than it can satisfy the need to touch or taste.
- Good ideas are easily bungled.
- Banal ideas can be rescued by personal investment and beautiful execution.
- Lacking an appealing surface, a photograph should depict surfaces appealingly.
- A photograph that refuses to market anything but its own complexities is perverse. Perversion is bliss.
- A backlit object is a pregnant object.
- To disregard symbols is to disregard a part of human perception.
- Photography may employ tools and characteristics of reportage without being reportage.
- The only photojournalistic images that remain interesting are the ones that produce or evoke myths.
- A photographer in doubt will get better results than a photographer caught up in the freedom of irony.
- The aestheticizing eye is a distant eye. The melancholic eye is a distant eye. The ironic eye is a distant eye.
- One challenge in photography is to outdistance distance. Immersion is key.
- Irony may be applied in homeopathic doses.
- A lyrical photograph should be aware of its absurdity. Lyricism grows from awareness.
- For the photographer, everyone and everything is a model, including the photograph itself.
- The photography characterized by these sentences is informed by conceptual art.
- The photography characterized by these sentences is not conceptual photography.
(via Triple Canopy)
Filed under: Events | Tags: books, New York City, Printed Matter, sale, zines
Filed under: Events, Paper Pusher | Tags: Artbook, artists books, Book, D.A.P, David Zwirner, zines
5th ANNUAL DAVID ZWIRNER POP-UP BOOKSTORE
MONDAY, JULY 21 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 1
10 AM – 6 PM
525 WEST 19TH STREET
Co-hosted with ARTBOOK | D.A.P., it will offer signed artist catalogues, new publications, DVDs, posters, and more.
On Thursday, July 24, the store will be open until 8pm for the Chelsea Art Walk.
Contact: Molly Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: Treatz | Tags: Adam Abada, cinema, film, Jules David Bartkowski, Nollywood, Pastor Paul, spirituality
Considering my love for all things extraterrestrial or unflinchingly spiritual, I wanted to share this super fly project written by and starring Jules David Bartkowski, shot in Ghana by the talented Adam Abada. Below you’ll find the trailer for the film, scheduled to premiere in December 2014.
From the project’s successful Kickstarter campaign:
“PASTOR PAUL is a feature film that follows Benjamin, a white American tourist, as he unexpectedly becomes famous for (and possessed by) his title role as the ghost of an evangelical preacher in a popular new Nollywood movie.
Our film aims to conjure up and distort colonialist narratives of Hollywood films set in Africa. The vicissitudes of fame change Benjamin’s role in this location from an awkward and irrelevant tourist to the vessel for the spirit of a colonial missionary. The humor and pathos of this affliction will be drawn distinctively in order to embody and disembody the imagery we have of the white preacher in Africa. We want to explore themes of perception, performance, and the experience of cultural gazes moving in both directions. We watch Ben watching Africa until we watch Ben watching Africa watch him back.”
Filed under: Treatz | Tags: cartoon, Dazed, Edward Marshall Shenk, identity, King of the Hill, Rhizome, Victor Vaughn
Psyched to discover “King’s Hill,” new work from Edward Shenk and Victor Vaughn, commissioned by Rhizome and featured on Dazed. Totally relevant to the cartoon persona research I’m doing. How do cartoons, in their consistency, encourage a diversion to change? These dudes are breaking the mold.
(All images courtesy of Edwardmarshallshenk.com)
Filed under: Paper Pusher | Tags: Bart Simpson, Blake Jones, Blood of the Young, Bort, cartoons, Dimitri Karakostas, Homer Simpson
In my conceptualizing of this series, it was difficult to choose what type of endeavor to begin with— do I try a literal serving spoon, something historically defined as a “zine” or “artists’ book”? Do I throw a conceptual stone off the cliff and hope the ripples spread further than a gradual descent into the pool? Do I pick a single artist’s project, or a collaboration? After much deliberation I chose My Son is Also Named Bort because it surprised me. I attached to it immediately, cradled by the subject matter and intrigued by the challenge of digesting what it all meant.
Publisher: Blood of the Young (Toronto, Canada), 2013
36 pages of photocopied drawings (Sharpie, pen, pencil, ink washes), all in gray scale and stapled.
The Simpsons are timeless characters for anyone who’s watched the television series in any of its 25 seasons. There is a healthy dose of satire and comedy, cultural commentary, and punchy immediacy that allowed them to soar during primetime. The title of this zine comes from an episode in the sixth season entitled “Itchy and Scratchy Land.” The gist of the story is this: Bart and Lisa convince the family to spend their vacation at Itchy and Scratchy Land, and Marge begs not to be embarrassed by the usual hijinks. After being air-lifted to the island, Marge and Homer overlook the violent overtones of the entire realm, but eventually depart to take refuge on Parent Island while the kids imbibe in the madness. Itchy and Scratchy clones overwhelm the ant hill in the form of traditional costumed disguises as well as oafish robots, the latter of which were used mostly for parades and displays of looney, chainsaw violence against their own kind. Homer and Bart (naturally) get themselves incarcerated for respectively abusing a hardworking character-actor. Upon Marge’s arrival to bail them out, the Simpsons men are released only to find that the robots have overwritten their codes and are recognizing humans as prey. The family is left on the island as retribution for their wrongdoings. But alas! When Homer throws a camera at an approaching tsunami of robots and its flash scrambles their circuits, their solution for survival makes itself clear! Disposable cameras from the gift shop seal their fate, as the A.I. fall victim to the blinding light, and they confirm that this was the best vacation ever…that they will never speak of again.
The zine takes its title from an exchange in the gift shop after Marge and Homer leave the children to wander the park unattended. Bart discovers personalized license plates embossed with “Bert” and “Bort,” skipping “Bart” entirely. A small child approaches the rack and requests a plate from his mother. A creeper reading a book in the shop alone turns around when she addresses him as Bort, and the title of the zine closes the scene. The questioning of ulterior universes and identity, where Bart is somehow the odd man out, carries throughout the zine. The introductory recto presents the original Simpsons family as they appeared in 1987, when the series appeared as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show. The family existed as such until 1990, when The Tracey Ullman Show ended and they entered the primetime lineup, shedding their cocoon like a sorcerer’s moth and entering the cultural canon. Stylistically it appears that Karakostas leads with several portraits of Bart, one per page. His blog, Portrait of the Young Artist as Bart Simpson, was started in 2009 and contains transmutations of Bart in a similar style. The introductory portraits show Bart toking, a form many have envisioned and depicted yet never seen on the show. These puffing portraits are anxiety-ridden, converse to the shameless rebellion of our youthful protagonist. After all, in his 25th year, he’s right on schedule for his quarter-life crisis. The floating heads are somewhat crude but reveal character subtleties we’ve never witnessed. Downturned eyelids or a fatter head alter Bart’s reality, accompanied by text that undermines the confident, reckless kid we’ve implanted into our memory. Bart, or probably Bort at this point, takes on personas including an obnoxiously cute cat-boy (“Don’t have a meow, man!”), a zombie addressing insomnia with impunity, and a nerdier version of Scumbag Steve. Bart as centaur brings the reader back to the boy they know, and he looks awfully disheveled, returning to the ganga for solace. This simple outline of the galloping horse’s body looks traced, and is a testament to the confinement, the limit, of working in a specific form.
A cartoon strip follows, which seems Jones’ contribution and is several frames long. In the strip, Bart dies and his spirit (in pizza form) inhabits Homer, morphing him into a skateboarding hybrid of the two characters. The verso after that page portrays Bart dead in a coffin, with the word “FINALLY” written at top. After that, things degrade into havoc. The energy rivals that of a casino: some corners host one lonely sitter, other places you have a slew of worthy subjects; everyone is drunkenly slurring their speech and I am just wishing I could take my beer goggles off to truly decipher if I know that dude at the end of the bar. The style is looser, clownish, bulbous. Although the primary focus is the Simpsons men, characters like Milhouse and Jimbo Jones also appear, intermingled with madness, as if to remind the reader of the safety of predictability. Toward the end, a maddening portrait of Homer on the verso is paired with a cloud of Mr. Potato Head on the recto, defining the pages before it as a whirling dervish of manic motion. The very end of the zine is physiological consistent with the cover: we see the pixelated backside of Homer with a tattoo of a Bart’s head, slain and mounted upon his skateboard as blood pools—presumably the dirty little secret of the terrifying, bug-eyed patriarch.
When it aired in 1994, the episode poked fun at the commercialism of theme parks and family vacations. Jones and Karakostas seem to be more entertained by the juvenile normalcy of Bart and what the viewer takes for granted. The moment in the gift shop, the namesake of the zine, is a fleeting interaction where Bart feels alien to his own universe, where “Bort” being a common name is obscene and the lack of a “Bart” plate is offensive. Here, Jones and Karakostas have created their own universe—there is no scene, location, or situation within which to place Bart and thus we, for the first time, infer Bart’s temperament. But Bart as a human being is uncomfortable, a meerkat in the rainforest. The enduring fiction that has allowed for an uncomplicated digestion of allegory and satire has vanished with the dissolution of his normal likeness. It reminds us that the narrative in cartoons often functions at the expense of character evolution. As much as I’d love to hear what that pip-squeak had to say about the Springfield nuclear power plant or Lisa’s complexes, the episodes are better if we can rely on his smart-ass deductions of the Flanders family and loyalty to Krusty.
Cartoons can hypnotize viewers with this reliable stagnation.The artists gave Bart the opportunity to experience his quarter-life crisis, with all the anxiety and inhibitions that sneak up after belligerent, invincible youth. The text, the phrases we assume to be his psyche talking, distance the reader from Bart’s public persona. We root against him for the sake of clarity. Every attempt to redefine himself or reach an apocalyptic conclusion in the zine undermines the Bart we know: a juvenile dude who rarely learns from his mistakes (regardless of how much detention he serves), a partner to Lisa despite resenting her femininity, and a general badass. When Homer is forced to reassess his “whole entire everything” as “some sick joke to a more malevolent creator,” we know it to be true. We have stolen the soul of these characters, a la Susan Sontag’s theory that photographs capture the souls of their subjects. Bart (and Homer, for that matter) is impervious to change, but we are crushing him under the anvil of reality in this zine. His eyes strain to see any way out of his tumult. Next time you think about how traumatic any change in your life is, remember poor, poor Bart in this zine and remind yourself that you were actually made for this.