Monday, December 16, 2019

Solidarity forever

Yesterday we said goodbye to Norwich Millennium Library where Queer Zine Library has been in residence for the past month. 

We checked the zines back in yesterday. It was our first experience displaying the zines in such a public setting for such a long period of time. As we prepped the zines for the tour we discussed what would happen if zines went missing or became damaged and prepared ourselves for the idea that our zine collection wouldn't be pristine forever as we decided very early on to prioritise access over preservation at all times. We hated the idea of zines only being accessible in a sealed off display case, or in invigilated reading rooms requiring photo id and an appointment. when zines are meant to be read and shared and handled freely. We were so happy that thanks to amazing hosts and amazing readers, all our zines came back safe and sound, making us want to do even more tours with longers residencies and collaborations. We were so happy with the ways the zines were made so accessible to everyone regardless of their knowledge of zines or diy queer culture.

Apryl and Rachel from Norwich Millennium Library 

We are half way through our first tour and it's been just an incredible experience taking these queer zines to different spaces and making them accessible in ways we hadn't imagined. Through displays and workshops and residencies we've had the privilege of sharing parts of the queer zine library with new readers and makers. We've also been able to develop the collection with lots of new donations and had lots of good chats and discussions about the role of self-publishing and connecting with our lgbtqia histories.

Anonymous zine contribution created during our zine making workshop

We are very grateful to all our hosts so far, and to everyone who has attended workshops, come to browse the collection, or made zines and other works in response to the zine library. It's an incredible privilege to be trusted to collect these zines and to make them accessible. Collaborating with libraries and artist and zine makers and activists and readers on this tour has been such a wonderful positive experience and we can't wait to do more!

Some of the backlog we'll be tackling at our cataloguing party

The zines are now back in storage in London and will be back on tour from January with our upcoming public zine cataloguing party before heading back out on the road.  Thanks to all our amazing cataloguing volunteers who have helped shaped our cataloguing manual and make our collections searchable so far.

If you're interested in hosting the queer zine library in your space, community centre, venue, library, workshop, exhibition etc then please do get in touch, we are eager to start planning our summer queer zine library tour!

This week has felt particularly dark in the wake of the UK general election and we want to continue to use our rage and compassion for activism, and to collaborate with other lgbtqia groups and spaces and lift each other up. In these dark times are are grateful for radical diy self-publishing as tools of activism, to share our stories and ideas and strategies for survival in our own voices. We wrote about this in our collection development manifesto:

Queer Zine Library is political. In times of fascism we want zines to be viewed as vital living breathing tools for self-preservation, activism, and a rejection of capitalist mainstream publishing, rather than just as art objects which Look Nice.  

Activism and mutual aid and organising outside of mainstream politics is always vital to dismantle oppression and we will be channelling our rage and compassion with grassroots queer groups and spaces and actions who are already doing the heavy lifting. Solidarity to everyone feeling fearful, angry, and overwhelmed right now. Lets find ways to keep using that energy to fight and support and survive.

See you in 2020. Solidarity forever