What is a zine and why a ‘zine-making workshop’?
Zines originated in the 1920s in the art world when certain philosophical and artistic movements began to create small pamphlets as a means of communicating their ideas. Zines also came from the ‘fanzine’ movement of the 1930s, where self-publications by science fiction and comic book readers were created as a means of sharing their reactions. The popularity of zines grew with the punk movement in the 1970s, where punk music and culture began to be explored via zines. They became even more defined in the 1980s with the creation of the magazine Factsheet Five, which reviewed and served as a guide to zines.
In the 1990s, the riot grrrl movement developed (also known as the third wave of feminism), where mostly college educated young women began to create feminist zines. The 1990s also gave birth to electronic zines, otherwise known as the e-zine movement. Zines continue to evolve, bringing to life everything from recipes to poetry to music to politics and beyond, and are swiftly becoming an international movement.
Zines are a medium where people can share ideas without the censorship of the dominant culture. They are a ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) sort of publication, where they are primarily created and distributed by hand. Zines are a grassroots, underground movement and have increasingly become a vehicle for the voices, ideas and feelings of more vulnerable populations and those who experience discrimination from the dominant culture. This vehicle, medium, communication and collaborative tool is rapidly growing and is unique in its ability to reach and come from populations that are otherwise subordinated and often silenced by society.
Zines are a revolutionary tool utilized to combat oppression and bring to light social injustices in an artistic, creative, critical, genuine and uncensored way to promote equality, social justice and social change. We believe that in order to help shift society away from a world of ‘isms’—racism, classism, ageism, ableism, sexism and all forms of discrimination and prejudice which construct and keep in place social hierarchies of power—we need to challenge the current systems. Zine-making is part of that larger battle, contributing towards creating and maintaining solidarity among all oppressed people, and empowering each other to fight back against the matrix of capitalism, colonialism, the state and patriarchy.
Lastly, zines are not made to be works of perfection, but rather ‘work(s) in progress’ and invite critical thinking and criticism not just within the maker but within the communities as well. This is an open invitation for dialogue within and amongst each other, which allows for participants to be creators, not just consumers. Zines are a form of media where people can challenge the dominant ideology and share ideas that are usually rejected by mainstream culture.