How long have you been making zines, and how did you start?
In Santiago de Chile (2005), I made my first fanzine “Lazy”, that’s when I started writing fiction. It was a split with Jimena. Then in 2007, I did the comic “Niño Arsenio” with my sister Valentina and we published it with Editorial Animita Cartonera. But not until a couple of years later did I start to edit my own fanzines with a lot more motivation, partly because from all my travels I’ve met many self publishers and sharing the scene makes more sense! I try to go to all the fanzine meetings near where I live.
How did the Biblioteca-Fanzinoteca Nómade or ‘zine bike’ idea come about and how did you pull it off?
My friend Jose moved to Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. He began with the idea of the zine bike, you might say he is the engineer of the matter. I traveled from Barcelona with my idea of workshops and my collection of zines (146 numbers) and chose other books. I filled the zine bike and activated it. Then I went from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (approx 300 km), where we exhibited at a cultural centre. Went through to early spring, the winds were so strong come November, I could barely get it out because the wind lay down the bike down, or the snow got in the way.
You mentioned local politics in our brief conversation and bringing independent literature to audiences that may not be able to afford or access it.
In this area of Chile, called “Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antártica,” people are very isolated geographically, and centralization of the country punished them with high taxes and made it difficult to access cultural items. In Chile the book tax is very high, so self publishing and fanzines make a lot of sense there. It was amazing all the people who signed up to be in the workshops to make their own zines and screen prints. This region’s past is marked by genocide to indigenous and anarcho-syndicalists workers. There are two books I recommend on the subject: “Patagonia Rebelde” Osvaldo Bayer and ” Rise of the slingshot.” The zines I took on the bike library were of very diverse content. Some of the themes were; postcolonial indigenous genocide, feminism and subculture. We’re talking about an ultra-conservative and very capitalist country where freedom parameters are narrow.
We edited a fanzine about femicide and violence against girls that was dramatic and macabre. Participants also edited a collective zine with the ‘exquisite corpse technique’ with a photo – novel format , on the theme of the town slogan: Puerto Natales ciudad que emprende. About 80 km away is the Torres del Paine National Park, recently declared the 8th wonder of the world. Injection of State and private money is aimed at the tourism industry, which is of course, very exclusive. The people there do not have free access to the park. Our collective fanzine was brutal, layout triple accordion, A4 format with a color photo-novel. Apart from these fanzines, participants created their own works on subjects as diverse as femicide, dead idols, microscopic life, ecology, cars on the pampa, Mapuche loom, manga, pathologies associated with climate change, and carious teeth.
Have you encountered any obstacles in this?
The obstacles empowered us as a group. I went there to conduct workshops about Visual Culture, Writing and DIY Publishing in a place where the b&w photocopy costs 20 cents, and the nearest screen printing shop was 2.500 kilometers away. The constraints forced us to be inventive. We made all our zines folded , so that a copy or screen printing frame was only one, but by folding and cutting, can go up to 15 faces or pages
Moreover, in such isolated places, social control is greater. Some of the authorities did not understand what we were doing, so they disarmed the printing workshop a few times.
In Puerto Natales there was a super motivated group, among people interested in ecology, visual culture, illustration, queer literature, anti-psychiatry lit, comics, and the anarcho scene. As many different identities as there are people in Puerto Natales. The two shows we did in the cultural space were accompanied by local bands who inaugurated the sample (La Mórbida and Estrellas Muertas).
How do you describe being a zinester to people who have never heard of a zine before? Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to make a zine?
Making fanzines is a contagious fever. You see it at fanzine annual events, each year there are more exhibitors than spectators. In my view this is the magic of freedom of communication, you can tell any stories silenced or overlooked by the mainstream media. I have seen many “first” zines and they are always created by a personal concern and the themes are always closely personal to the life of zinester. You can make one zine for your friends because you change your country, you can make one zine for telling your friends you’re gay, you can make another because you and your friends don’t want to go see a psychiatrist. My advice at the workshop that I do (Gleaners of Visual Culture) is to try and make zines with materials you already have on hand, with topics you know well.
Can you describe your working process? How you assemble your zines and where you look for aesthetic or creative inspiration?
My creative process is something holistic. Sometimes I find in the trash 200 firecrackers and half will make a zine, so then it happens that the story ends with a nuclear bomb, and hits just below the text firecracker. I mean, my creative process as a writer and making fanzines is closely related to my lifestyle (recycle, use garbage on the road for my projects, travel a lot, etc). I ‘m also interested in the issue of language: for example, if I write a horror story I like to make it as a zine that can only be read in the dark (with screen printing ink that glows in the dark). I could say that my keywords to make zines are: synesthesia and garbage.
What are some of the zines you are currently reading?
Lately most of the zines I’ve been reading have only illustration or visual content. When I see anything I really like with visual content but also with text I always exchange or buy it. I like Rafa El Doc zines. One of my favorites is by Aitana “Niña Neghra“, and about ideas and silkscreen edition Srta.Jess. I just made a trade with Dragana from Love craftHouse, (New Jersey) and I like everything!! I also like “Orfidal” and “Me siento loco.”
Where do you see the zine community, and zines themselves in 5, 10 or 25 years?
I imagine the community will grow in the future. I also think it will always be an organic space where people will be more committed. As to what will happen to the fanzine itself materially: fanzines will have the material quality that digital culture can not remove. For example, a counter-information fanzine has much more weight than a link in a digital medium. Recall the words of Baudrillard on the societies of the era of communication: people think that being informed is doing something about it. You open Facebook or email and there are thousands of links and political concerns with free flowing information, but there is not much action: just stay in and click, share with finger in reply. While a fanzine (now recalling Walter Benjamin) has a special aura, is part of the digital reproduction but also has its touch and manufactured parts . Send a fanzine to someone in the mail or hand them one and it has a special power that can not be equated or compared with digital culture.
Ratalia’s blog: http://rataliasink.blogspot.ca/