ZINE CAMP: A DIY SUBCULTURE IN ROTTERDAM

It’s a Saturday afternoon and Clara from Porto has just walked into WORM with a broad-leafed pot plant under her arm. Camouflage nets suspended from the ceiling form a jungly canopy from which small booklets dangle tantalizingly on the end of strings, like fruit ripe for picking… or reading.

Despite the botanical allusions this camp is not as outdoorsy as you might imagine, instead it is intrepid in a visual and literary sense. We are at Zine Camp, a DIY zine festival held over two days at the end of May.

For those discombobulated by this mysterious term: a zine (rhymes with ‘seen’) is a cheaply made, cheaply priced, self-published book or magazine usually mass-produced via black & white photocopier and stapled together.
Still don’t get it? Google it.

Inside WORM there are photocopiers (3!), tables piled high with paper, and people sitting, cutting, pasting, talking, printing, writing, reading.
Around the room Indianen Antwerpen operate their retro robotic zine-drawing machine, Woodstone Kugelblitz demonstrate the workings of a 1920s Gestetner stencil machine and illustrator Rachel Sender runs an accordion zine-making station.
Meanwhile Clara has set the pot plant, a desert rose, down in the middle of a material-strewn table where Daniela Maffeo and myself of Stichting ReKult, are running a workshop. The topic of today is Lost & Found: stories of objects that have come and gone in our lives that represent something greater: a beloved person, an emotional phase, something profound or frivolous.
Clara found the desert rose, which she named Lyla, when she arrived in Rotterdam a few months ago to study at WDKA. She starts painting a portrait of it, documenting this transient object in her life. Other people’s object stories include a lost grandmother’s ring, a favorite painting brush found in a basement, and keys to stolen bikes. In terms of zine-making this workshop is the 100mt sprint. Within an hour and a half we brainstorm content as a group, each create a page, compile everything into a master copy, make 30 editions on the luxuriously reliable photocopier, and bind them with a long-arm stapler. A copy for everyone, with Lyla the plant on the back cover. There’s something incredibly satisfying about producing a group creation in such a short amount of time.

 

Zine_Camp_potplant_ClaraSilva

 

Zine Camp came about when the people of WORM (Rotterdam’s Institute for Avantgardistic Recreation) asked design duo Tim Braakman and Amy Suo Wu, together with PrintRoom, to organise an event for their Underground Publishing month. According to organiser Florian Cramer the beauty of Zine Camp is that it connects the different generations at WORM, namely people who grew up in the post-punk period of the 1980s and people who are now in their 20s.

The festival was opened by local godfathers of underground publishing: Lukas Simonis, Alfred Boland, PJ Roggeband and Frits Jonker, who aptly renamed themselves the Grumpy Old Dogs for the occasion. These old skool zinesters were cutting and pasting squat-scene publications before most ZC visitors were even born!

Similarly Sara Rosa Espi, who is writing a PhD on personal zines at Utrecht University, was struck by the many spontaneous conversations with strangers she had about zines, self-publishing, art, politics… and Colombia.

Other conversationalists included zine icon Dishwasher Pete who made a guest appearance on Sunday, and Enrique Arriaga, curator of the Fanzinoteca in Mexico City, whose skyped discussion about analogue vs digital publishing resulted in an explosive debate!

Zine Camp has revealed a rich microcosm of self-publishing in NL with lots of hidden species coming out of the woodwork. And what’s more I have it on good authority that there are already plans for Zine Camp 2015.

Pack your pencils kids! We’re going camping!

 

 

Words: Beatrice Clarke
Photos: Florian Cramer and Amy Suo Wu
(Plant) illustration: Clara Silva

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