Teaching Materials

Learning at Home | Experiments with Zines

This series of home-based, creative exercises reexamines the role of art during moments of crisis in the contemporary world.

In light of class suspensions in Hong Kong during the coronavirus outbreak in spring 2020, AAA has invited local artists to design a range of educational activities for teachers to help students carry out at home. These exercises encourage teachers and students to reflect upon their experience of the virus outbreak, relevant social issues, and the purpose of art in times of emergency.

Artist and independent publisher Beatrix Pang introduces zine-making as a way for students to record their daily observations, and immediate feelings and thoughts. This exercise also encourages students to express themselves and explore their subjects of interest through zines. 

Teachers are invited to share the process and result of students practising these exercises on Learning & Participation's Facebook group: Contemporary Art in Asia: Teachers’ Community.

Image: A zine workshop by Beatrix Pang for secondary school students. Asia Art Archive, 2017.
Image: A zine workshop by Beatrix Pang for secondary school students. Asia Art Archive, 2017.

 

Topic: A Reading Experiment with Zines (make an eight-paged zine from one sheet of paper)

What is a “Zine”?

A “zine” serves as a prototype for a “book,” with myriad experimental potentials waiting to be explored. A book is created out of papers through processes of folding, cutting, and binding. It entails a unique reading experience shaped by aesthetic and design concerns, unique in a way where the contents conceived by the author dictate how the book is designed and read. It is an interesting experience that involves communication between people.

The production of a zine is a solo work of creation performed by the authors themselves. Thanks to the vast multitudes of contents and formats, produced to serve different purposes, zines defy easy categorisation. Each zine tells a little story, it is a “space” or an outlet for the author to unleash creative thinking, without the urge for profits or compromise. There are no rules in conceiving the contents—each author can have their own way according to their feelings and skills, nor is it a matter of right or wrong as there are no predefined formats to zines: drawing, writing, photography, collage, cutting, and printing are just some of the approaches.

In this experiment with zine-making, we start by folding an A4 paper (21 x 29.7cm) into eight equal parts in rectangular shape, on which the contents are to be placed. This is followed by folding, cutting, and binding to turn the sheet into an A7 size (7.43 x 10.5cm) zine.

Why Make Zines?

At a time when schools have been suspended starting Lunar New Year due to the virus outbreak, what have you absorbed and perceived from the information received on the internet and television, or from family, classmates, and friends? Let’s take this unusual opportunity to make an eight-page zine (of course you can make more than one) to record this “epic long wait” using the techniques of collecting and observing.

Materials

  1. A4 printing paper
  2. Scissors
  3. A stapler
  4. A glue stick/liquid glue
  5. Pencils, pens, and colours (choose the common kinds)
  6. A mobile phone/digital camera
  7. A black and white/colour printer (if available)

 

Preparation
*Here are some examples; students are free to create in their own ways.

Collect

  1. The most commonly heard words or phrases in this period
  2. The words that interest you most in the news of the pandemic on the internet, TV news, newspaper, and magazines
  3. Write down and collect these words (contemplation of repetition)

Observe

  1. The tables and desks at home
  2. A scene behind the window (a street corner, a window of the opposite residential building, the sky, etc.)
  3. Observe it at fixed intervals each day and take pictures of them with a camera (built-in cameras on mobile phone or any digital cameras), or use drawings to document the changes over time (contemplation of time)

 

Make a Zine (see appendix for instructions)

  1. Fold an A4 paper three times with the raised sides facing in and unfold it to create a 2x4 grid.
  2. Explore different ways of folding (I have discovered twelve kinds) that transform the A4 sheet into a booklet with eight rectangular pages.
  3. Different ways of folding produce different reading orders.
  4. After collecting and observing materials, define a theme for the zine, e.g., distance/ quarantine/ lockdown/ solitude/ loneliness/ illness/ friends/ missing someone/ masks/ washing hands/ unemployment/ Zoom/ online learning, etc.
  5. Lay out relevant materials on the eight pages arranged according to your preferred way of folding.

 

Reference:

  1. Hsieh Teh-ching: thoughts on time and restrictions

“He confined himself in a wooden cage and did nothing for a year”

“Hsieh Teh-ching: The most important time of my life is wasted”

  1. The column “Aesthetics of Zines” by ZINE COOP on Ming Pao Education ection
  1. Instagram of ZINE COOP
  1. David Bonanni, “Little Books”, 2015

 

Notes to Teachers 

The zine-making experiment allows students to record their “immediate” or “ephemeral” thoughts and feelings, while book-making is more exacting in terms of time and patience. Each zine is distinctive, in that it reflects the characters and subjects of interest of the student author. The major difference between a zine and other visual arts homework is that the former is a lighter medium that allows more freestyle and impromptu creation, therefore justified in employing different criteria of assessment. Teachers are encouraged to discuss with their students on their chosen themes, creative experiences, and methodologies (such as the relationship between the themes and the collected materials, or between the methods of folding/binding and the contents, etc.).

About the Artist

Beatrix Pang Sin Kwok is a visual artist and founder of Small Tune Press, an independent publisher of artists’ books and zines with focus on organising exchange and education activities as well. She is also a co-founder of a local zine collective ZINE COOP and Queer Reads Library.

 

Publishing date: 16 Apr 2020 

 

The AAA Learning and Participation Programme is supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited.

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