To mark the second anniversary of AAA’s zine collection, Nam2 Haa5 Zine: Tête-à-tête between Zines and Books in AAA Library looks at how zines have expanded, challenged, and enriched existing narratives in art history. By pairing and grouping the zines with books and ephemeral materials from AAA Collections, this library display initiates a dialogue between institutional and personal approaches of artistic expression, and the generative discussions they can instigate in a research library.
The zine collection at AAA was launched in April 2019, and currently features over 500 titles. We first began to collect zines as a way to record the diversity of unrecorded and marginalised voices within the arts community, and to better understand the proliferation of this particular medium in this particular time. Below is a list of zines the Collections Team has selected and grouped together:
A Shi Prequel (ZIN.FOF) x Fong Fo: Extra (EX.USA.FFE)
Also known as an artist collective in Guangzhou and Shunde, Fong Fo is a monthly zine published since 2013 that compiles contributions of texts, drawings, and photography from a network of people from China, Hong Kong, and Japan. For Fong Fo, the zine was a way to hold an art exhibition through the medium of paper, and a direct response to the lack of exhibition opportunities in Guangzhou.
We’ve paired them up with A Shi Prequel and Fong Fo: Extra, which are gallery catalogues of Fong Fo’s first exhibitions as a collective both in and outside of China, as a way of showcasing how the group creates their own exhibition histories.
Further Reading: Fong Fo (ZIN.FOF)
In 2008, Green Papaya Art Projects published the first and only issue of PAPAYA Magazine, which was distributed for free. The magazine, a response to the political constraints on Manila’s arts infrastructure, contains writings by Lourd de Veyra, Hou Hanru and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ringo Bunoan, Lena Cobangbang, Andy Mukherjee, James Ong, as well as contributions from other artists, writers, and photographers.
Over a decade later, as a way to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Green Papaya Art Projects, the zine DEATH IS A PORTAL* was published. Continuing with the motivation to serve the community, the zine is a collection of twenty posters that demonstrates poignant views on the pandemic.
In February 2021, AAA also launched the Green Papaya Art Projects Archive—the records pertaining to the operation and work of Manila’s longest active artist-run organisation.
Included in the display is a response by Norberto Roldan (Peewee).
Published on the occasion of AAA’s tenth anniversary, Asia Art Archive: Ten Years documents the various facets of the organisation and its work from 2000 to 2010. The complementing zine, Night Book, offers a more informal perspective: it comprises creative contributions from AAA’s staff, artists with which AAA has collaborated in the past, as well as other arts organisations.
Included in the display is a response by Gabrielle Chan.
RESBAK (Respond and Break the Silence Against Killings) is a collective of artists, journalists, and cultural practitioners who aim to raise awareness of state violence across the world. They collect video footage and images, produce videos, hold film screenings, and make zines. The selected zines, which include writing in Filipino and English, are made in response to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous drug war. We have paired them with the exhibition catalogue of Looking for Another Family, which was held at MMCA, Seoul, in 2020. The exhibition featured RESBAK as one of its fifteen teams of participating artists, and showcases the collective’s art practice of using social media.
Included in the display is a response by RESBAK.
The official and unofficial catalogues for the exhibition Can We Live (Together). The show, held at Oil Street Art Space in 2014, examines the conditions, potentials, and outcomes of self-initiated collaborative practices and, by extension, its communities. Hair Together take on the aesthetic of a counterfeited tabloid for the artist and the curator to share writings and thoughts on the exhibition in a more casual approach that counters, challenges, and enriches the official catalogue published by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Founded in 2009 by a group of Hong Kong artists, curators, critics, researchers, and educators, Woofer Ten was a non-profit arts organisation, offering an alternative space and platform that resembled a community centre, and ran until 2015. We’ve highlighted the space’s Independent Initiative File, which includes ephemeral materials published by Woofer Ten and clippings donated by the space, and paired them with their zines in the form of community newspapers: Woofer Post and Woofer Hui Post. Published monthly in 2012, Woofer Post was a freely distributed newsletter for Yau Ma Tei, where the space is located, and addressed topics such as gentrification, demolition of historical buildings, as well as festivals and cultural activities held by Woofer Ten.
Further Reading: Wooferten's Art/Activist in Residence 2013–2015 (REF.WFT)
Urban Wanderings is a photobook that compiles Christy Leung’s past writings and film photographs taken in Hong Kong, ruminating on her “gradually dissipating identity.” The zine Trash is a magnifying glass, showing the city of Hong Kong through the perspective of a pedestrian and the trash they pass by on the streets. The pairing of the two publications, which were made only a year apart, presents an opportunity to examine how an artist uses the zine as an alternative medium to present her work, as opposed to the more mainstream photobook.
Included in the display is a response by Christy Leung.
The book BERTY, and the zines produced as a result of collaborations between artist Angela Su and writer Mary Lee, are polar opposites in terms of form and content. BERTY, published in conjunction with Su’s exhibition at Gallery EXIT in 2013, is a crowdfunded novella that treads the grey area between visual art and literature, while also providing context to Su’s artwork. Meanwhile, the two zines—20 Question Marks and Exclamation Marks 2015 0928, and Hong Kong Guy Hides 73 iPhones in Drink Cartons 2015 1026—intentionally depart from BERTY and Su’s artistic practice, instead offering facts and information regarding the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
Included in the display is a response by Angela Su.
Gardner and Green’s Biennials, Triennials, and Documenta: The Exhibitions That Created Contemporary Art is a comprehensive examination of the history of large-scale survey and blockbuster exhibitions, and their influence on global contemporary art since the 1950s. The zine What Should Biennials Do? references Gardner and Green’s perspective, as well as that of other critical work, as a lens to examine specifically the biennials in Thailand in 2018. The zine was written and published for TABLE 20 at the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2019.
Included in the display is a response by Bart Wissink and Lara van Meeteren.
The Wretched of the Screen is a collection of essays by Hito Steyerl, who is a German filmmaker, artist, writer, and scholar, showcasing her critical examinations of the representation of politics. We juxtapose this with two issues of Hitozine, the fanzine about Steyerl which was first published on the occasion of the talk event FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 2015. The fanzines offer a tongue-in-cheek side to her academic writing by capturing her tweets and quotes; they also collect writings inspired by her work, such as Peter Willis’ Dear Hito, which is a one-sided stream of gradually frenetic emails to Steyerl, investigating the typography of sex-soliciting spam emails in an original way.
Included in the display is a response by Peter Willis.
This book display project was initiated by Elaine Lin, Charlotte Mui, Lydia Lam, and Sam Chao from the Collections Team. Walk-zine and ephemeral display created by Sam Chao. Text by Charlotte Mui. Promotional materials by Lydia Lam.
We would also like to thank Paul C. Fermin, Karen Cheung, and Chelsea Ma from the Editorial Team for meticulously looking through our writings, Özge Ersoy for her advice, Wendy Ng and Debby Tsui for sharing the display with the world, Tim Choi for the Chinese translation, and of course the zine-makers for their participation in the project and for their heartfelt responses.