My weekend at the Sydney Anarchist Book Fair and Canberra Zine Emporium, with bonus swipes at Sydney’s public transport system

When I learned that $50 was the asking price for a table at the inaugural Sydney Anarchist Book Fair (22 March 2014) I was a bit disappointed but not surprised. For some reason, that seems to be the going rate at anarchist book fairs. Why? Answers on a postcard to PO Box 4, Enmore NSW 2042, please…

The cost of tables nearly put me off booking, but that would have meant breaking my main resolution for 2014, which was to stop being the biggest pikelet in zinedom and table some fairs other than the MCA* and Canberra this year. I was already going strong on this resolution, managing to get myself, Tim and a suitcase fulla zines to Melbourne for the Festival of the Photocopier in February, FINALLY, having said I was gonna go the previous three years or something, but pike-pike-piking every time.

So I booked, and on Saturday me and Anwyn (Tim having flown to Paris – Paris! Bastard!** – a few days earlier) made our way by the mysterious 428 bus (mysterious in that many have wondered where the fuck it is***) to the Addison Rd Community Centre at the too-early-for-me-hour of 9:30 AM. The big hall at Addison Rd was full of tables that were covered in books, zines and other paraphernalia, and the walls were hung with inspiring banners from rallies and pickets, our favourite of which was one that simply said ‘STRIKE’, in big letters painted red and black on the diagonal. Why beat around the bush, right?

Thank you and well done to members of the Jura Books collective, who were largely responsible for organising the event: it was pretty ace, despite the price of stalls, and I hope it becomes a regular thing. I suck at estimating how much of a given thing there is in a given space at a given time, but there were enough stalls to fill the big hall at Addison Rd, and enough people in attendance to provide a constant, relaxed hum of activity. Highlights for me included getting a long desired back issue of Shotgun Seamstress from Race Riot Distro and seeing the amazing stuff that Negative Press have been publishing from their DIY print workshop. The best zine of the day – though admittedly I didn’t nab them all – was Lou’s ‘Flighpath and other zines’, a compilation of excerpts from zines they made between 2000 – 2007. Everyone should know that these are literally the best zines that were made in Sydney during the early 00s.

There was a lot of other stuff going on at the fair – choirs singing, panels panelling, a yoga class yogaing, speakers speechifying etc etc. The Counter-Revolution crew made some really nice vegan burgers that tasted on par with a Lord of the Fries burger but didn’t give me an upset tummy: delicious AND digestible. Win! I tried to go back for seconds but they’d already packed up, looking knackered. For most of the day I mostly stuck to my seat (literally: it was hot), but S kindly minded our stall for a bit so we could see the Sydney Feminist Discussion Circle give their panel presentation, ‘Casting Spells’, which pretty much went off, in a manner that panels generally don’t. I was reminded a bit of Stewart Lee’s ‘I agreed the fuck out of it’ joke from the latest season of Comedy Vehicle, but still: it can be good to be in a big room full of people who seem to share views about important things, especially in these dark times. See the Golden Barley School blog for a transcript of one of the papers.

The day wrapped up and R gave me and Anwyn a lift home in their hilariously macho ute, manoeuvring the gear stick wedged between A’s legs like the beginning of some horrendously clichéd porn routine. We got home safe before the threatening storm broke, and prepared for the following day’s zine activities: the second annual Canberra Zine Emporium (23 March 2014)!

I must have been feeling pretty hardcore to take on two zine fairs in as many days. There were moments, I confess, when I contemplated copping out on Canberra. But I remembered the time when R (a different one) wasn’t gonna come to an exhibition opening I was having, but at the last moment decided to Toughen The Fuck Up, and I thought, yes: that indeed is sage advice. Anyway, preparation only consisted of filling another gym bag full of zines and writing my home phone number (yes, I have a landline) on the back of A’s hand so she could call me in the morning in case I pegged my mobile at the wall when the alarm went off and went back to sleep. I sleep like a pupa, wrapped up tight from head to toe in my sheets with only a small aperture for air. I am very strict about the quality and quantity of sleep I get, and there are very few things I will sacrifice sleep for. We were catching the coach to Canberra, meaning we had to be at Central before 7 AM, meaning I had to be out of bed by 5:30 AM. Could I do it?

Yep, I did, it all went fine. I even made a Thermos of tea and everything. Only stuff up was that on my way to Dulwich Hill station, gym bag of zines breaking my shoulder in the still pitch black, naughty-cat filled morning, A rang to say that according to her trusty train tracking app the train was running twenty minutes late, so we had to call a cab. Oh Shitty Rail, you never fail to fail! (And I don’t care if you’ve changed your name to ‘Sydney Trains’ and have a passive-aggressive train-bot making all the announcements now, either. Bah). The cabbie let us out opposite the coach terminal and in the wait before boarding ‘someone’ had a chance to do a bit of quick Sharpie work on a Biennale of Sydney poster which, despite the success of the recent boycott, still advertised detention centre profiteers Transfield among its sponsors. A side note: when did everyone stop using ‘Textas’ and start using ‘Sharpies’? Answers on a postcard etc…

On days when I start work in the early afternoon, I usually arrive in time to see my work mate Josefino sleeping perfectly upright in a chair in the lunchroom with his lower jaw dangling open, in a creepy, death mask kind of way. I felt my own jaw slackening involuntarily as I attempted to sleep in my coach seat, but I’d covered my face with a jumper to block out the ever increasing sunlight, so no one saw me dribble into my sleeve. At the beginning of the trip the coach driver had made a long announcement about how the seat arm rests work, why you shouldn’t vomit in the restroom sink, where you should dispose of your rubbish and why you should not accuse him of being drunk if the coach is buffeted by high winds off Lake George as we roll into Canberra. ‘I am perfectly sober’, he assured us. He also said that yesterday he’d knocked 15 minutes off the estimated arrival time, and that he hoped to do the same today.

True to his word, 3 hours and 15 minutes later we arrived in Canberra: ‘we are fifteen minutes early, just like yesterday’, he intoned with modest pride over the PA. We lugged our zines to Gorman House. There, almost everyone else had already set up. We found ourselves seated next to Safdar from the Refugee Art Project, who aside from helping to run that important project is a nice chap and was kind enough to trade his personal zine – Safdar’s Weird Shit – for one of mine.

Every zine fair I’ve been to in Canberra has been good, and this was no exception. Chiara – author of Rhetorical zine and one of the CZE crew – postulated that this is because nothing much happens in Canberra, so when something does happen people are very responsive. Actually, she said: ‘in Canberra, people like shopping’. I would have liked to have been in town for the other zine related entertainments that CZE collective organised, especially the slide-show on Saturday night, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t make it. You’ll have to ask someone else for a run down on that.

There was other stuff going on at this fair, too: CZE collective members announced periodically that a zine workshop was happening here, a magician was performing there… But to be honest, when I go to a zine fair there’s pretty much two things I’m interested in: minding my table, and looking at what other people have on theirs. And talking to people, you know. And food. But that’s just me. There was plenty of food on hand, and I was soon stuffing myself, first with a gozleme then a soysage sandwich then a rather delicious cinnamon doughnut, with what now occurs to me to be a complete lack of solidarity with A’s gluten intolerance. Sorry.

One of the great things about both the SABF and CZE was that very few people asked me to explain what a ‘zign’ is or for me to spruik my stuff to them. What does this mean? That we’ve reached some sort of saturation point in educating people about zines, or that the novelty value has worn off and only those who actually know and care what they are bother to attend zine fairs these days?

By about 3 PM I was feeling pretty tired. I did a bit of looking around, got some stuff from Sticky, Burrows & Co. and individual Canberran zinesters. I am particularly looking forward to reading ‘Better things to do: the early history of Canberra straight-edge’, because I like it when people use zines to document secret, underground histories, and I haven’t thought about Forward Defence in a very long time. I guess the secret histories thing is also why I was so excited about Lou’s ‘Flightpath’ zine. When I have a chance to read everything properly I might do a long overdue zine-haul-round-up post on my poor neglected blog, Flying Machine.

So, the CZE ended at 4 PM. As seems customary at zinester organised fairs, everyone helped stack the chairs and fold up the tables at the end. A and me made our way back to the coach terminal, and then back home to the small area of Sydney where we and all our friends seem to live these days. And that was my weekend. It was lovely to see zine friends from Melbourne and Canberra and other places, and to hang out with friends in Sydney. It’s quite an honour to know so many good people. Thank you all, friends.

X Emma

* Of course, I will be at Other Worlds, not the MCA, this 25 May.

** ‘Paris! Bastard!’ might be the name of my new band, watcha think? Answers on a postcard etc…

*** I actually know why the 428 is always late, but there’s no time to go into it here.

Some notes on sponsorship – redux

Hey folks, I’m just dragging this up (with a few changes to the wording) from the bottom of the post before last where it was first published. In conversations I had on the weekend at the Sydney Anarchist Book Fair and Canberra Zine Emporium (thank you to the organisers of both events) people were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea of boycotting the MCA zine fair over the MCA’s relationship with Transfield, but there was some confusion about precisely what that relationship is. Creating confusion is a pretty good way of obscuring facts, but anyway: this is the information I have found with my limited internet searching abilities:

In a pay-walled article on ArtsHub, the MCA called our use of the word ‘sponsorship’ to describe their relationship with Transfield a “factual inaccurancy”, stating instead that Transfield are a ‘Corporate Member’.

‘Corporate Members’ are listed on the ‘Sponsorship’ page of the MCA website.

Transfield are listed on page 60 of the most recent (2012) MCA annual report in the section for ‘Sponsorship, Donations, Marketing and Public Relations’, as a ‘Corporate Member’.

The MCA are listed on the ‘Community Involvement – Sponsorships’ page of the Transfield website: “Transfield Holdings has been a corporate sponsor of the Museum of Contemporary Art since 2004.” (accessed 24/3/14, emphasis mine. Note that the Transfield domain name and the Transfield logo at the top of the web-page do not make a distinction between ‘Transfield Holdings’, ‘Transfield Services’ or ‘Transfield Foundation’.)

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So, the word ‘sponsorship’ seems to have a slippery definition, depending on when, how and by whom it is used. Clearly Transfield consider their corporate membership to be a variety of sponsorship. The MCA, perhaps, feels differently – although their own publicly accessible information on their sponsors etc is ambiguous. Whatever the difference (or lack of) between ‘sponsorship’ and ‘corporate membership’ in this case, the MCA and Transfield have a brand relationship. As the MCA website outlines, Corporate Membership provides an opportunity to:

“[a]lign with Australia’s leading contemporary arts brand and an exciting range of collections” and[d]evelop and enhance relationships with key clients and stakeholders”.

What would a bit of amateur research be without a visit to Wikipedia? From the entry on brand equity (or as it’s sometimes known, brand value):

Brand equity is a phrase used in the marketing industry which describes the value of having a well-known brand name, based on the idea that the owner of a well-known brand name can generate more money from products with that brand name than from products with a less well known name…”

Cheers,

Emma

Anarchists, Canberra, Plastic Knife, Other Worlds

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Next Saturday is the first ever Sydney Anarchist Book Fair! A lot of people have put a lot of work into this and we’re really pleased to have a stall. It’s at the Addison Rd Community Centre. We probably won’t make it to the after party at the Rat, cuz we have to be up bright and early to catch the bus to this:

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The second annual Canberra Zine Emporium!

If we were in Canberra for the Saturday we’d also go along to this, which looks ace:

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Those Canberran zine folks sure do know what they’re up to.

In other zine related news, this time Melbourne based:

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Tune into 3CR this Saturday (i.e. TOMORROW) at 6pm to hear the inimitable Plastic Knife play live to air! You can also book them to play in your kitchen, for their 2014 Kitchen Tour of Melbourne!

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Now back to Sydney. Last update we wrote a bit about deciding not to go to the MCA zine fair this year because of the MCA’s relationship with Transfield, a company that runs services in the offshore refugee ‘processing centres’ on Manus and Nauru.

Well, it turned out that we aren’t the only ones concerned about the MCA and Transfield. A few of us have decided to organise an alternative fair. Other Worlds will be held on the same day as the MCA fair, 25 March 2014, at the Brand X Event Space, Level 3/28 Broadway, Chippendale. We’ve put a call out on Facebook that has already garnered a lot of support: here it is for those of you who don’t do the Facebook:

Dear zinesters and zine fans,

We’re organising an alternative to the MCA zine fair and want you to be involved!

The MCA is sponsored* by Transfield, a corporation that operates service contracts in the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Transfield derives brand value through its association with the arts, and it derives considerable profit from the extra-judicial incarceration of asylum seekers. By participating in events that are sponsored by Transfield we add value to their brand. We, a small group of zine makers from Sydney, inspired by the current campaign to boycott the Sydney Biennale over its relationship with Transfield, have decided to boycott the MCA zine fair in 2014. We do not want our zines to add value to a corporation that profits from the Australian government’s indefensible treatment of asylum seekers.

Instead, we want to hold our own zine fair: the Other Worlds Zine Fair.

Other Worlds will be held on the same day as the MCA fair, 25 May 2014.

An alternative fair will give zinesters an opportunity to show their protest while still enabling them to sell and swap their zines. We want to demonstrate that we can make our own event, on our own terms: ones that explicitly reject association with the detention industry.

We also hope to create a space in which to initiate discussions and raise awareness of how the system of mandatory detention manifests in our everyday lives: how we are implicated in it, how else we can resist it, and how we can end it.

An alternative to the MCA zine fair may seem like a small protest, but it’s a specific protest that we can make as zine makers, in solidarity with asylum seekers who protest against and resist mandatory detention from within the camps.

So, register your interest in booking a table!
Half table: $5/Full table: $10 (tables are 1.8 metres long)
Email otherworldszinefair(at)gmail.com by March 25

Hon, Emma, Tim and Meg

Stay tuned for more updates!

* A few notes on ‘sponsorship':

In a pay-walled article on ArtsHub, MCA corrected us on the use of the word ‘sponsorship’ to describe their relationship with Transfield, stating instead that Transfield are a ‘Corporate Member’.

‘Corporate members’ are listed on the ‘Sponsorship’ page of the MCA website.

Transfield are listed on page 60 of the MCA 2012 annual report in the section for ‘Sponsorship, Donations, Marketing and Public Relations’, as a ‘Corporate Member’.

The MCA are listed on the ‘Community Involvement – Sponsorships’ page of the Transfield website: ‘Transfield Holdings has been a corporate sponsor of the Museum of Contemporary Art since 2004.’ (accessed 14/3/14. 22:40, emphasis mine).

The word ‘sponsorship’ seems to have a slippery definition, depending on when, how and by whom it is used. Clearly Transfield consider their corporate membership to be a variety of sponsorship. Whatever the case, MCA and Transfield have a brand relationship. As the MCA website outlines, Corporate Membership provides an opportunity to:

‘[a]lign with Australia’s leading contemporary arts brand and an exciting range of collections’ and ‘[d]evelop and enhance relationships with key clients and stakeholders.’

Cheers,

Emma

Tidy up, new zines forthcoming and why we’re not going to the MCA zine fair

We have A LOT of new stock to add to the catalogue, so in preparation I’ve just done a quick tidy up of the site.

Back in stock we have:

  • Taking Things Too Far (consistently the most popular thing on our table at zine fairs, with good reason)
  • Well, That Was Weird (Tamara’s ace collection of short, short stories)
  • Underground Fairylands (Emma’s laborious/elaborate letterpress/collage found poetry thing/zine)

And COMING SOOOON:

  • Many issues of Plastic Knife, including the latest, which is an album
  • Many issues of Piss Factory, including the latest, which is not an album but is (as always) about music
  • Three issues of Cheap Toys
  • Two issues of Love Like Pop
  • The Dream of Maxen

Thanks to everyone who came and visited us at our last open day at Junior Gazette. The day was a great success and we’ll be planning more open days this year, keep your eyes peeled. We took some photos of the space as it was set up, including Syd Terminal’s collages that were on display, so when we get around to it we’ll put them up.

Thanks also to Luke, Thomas and everyone in Melbourne who helped put on and who attended the Festival of the Photocopier at the beginning of the month! It was an extremely hot weekend in Melbourne – fortunately zines are really cool, right? Haw haw. Anyway, we were really pleased that we could finally make it down for the Fest. Can’t wait for next year.

On a more serious note before I sign off, you may have heard that the MCA has done the call-out for their zine fair this year at the end of May. Take Care has decided not to participate in this year’s fair, due to sponsorship connections the MCA has with a finance conglomerate called Transfield.  Transfield run the service contracts in the detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. Some of you may be aware that there is currently a campaign underway to boycott the upcoming Sydney Biennale due to its ties with Transfield. We support this boycott and calls for organisations and individuals to disvest their financial interests with Transfield and any other company that profits from the human misery – and murder – produced by the conditions in the camps. As such, we feel that we can’t be involved with the MCA fair this year, either, unless they suddenly cease to have a relationship with Transfield. That would only happen if we make some noise about it. So we encourage others to read up on this issue, and to join us in a boycott. The Crossborder Operational Matters site has a lot of valuable information on it about Transfield’s relationship with the arts. The RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees) site has a statement on the Biennale boycott.

x Emma

Tomorrow at Junior Gazette

take care open day flyer

Just a reminder that all the zines in the Take Care catalogue will be available to buy sans postage tomorrow at Junior Gazette. That’s Level 1, 91 Railway Pde Marrickville, between 12 and 5 pm. There will also be collages by Syd Terminal on display to accompany his new zine, The Dream of Maxen, which is being launched.

Also, we’ve recently acquired back issues of the wonderful Plastic Knife, Cheap Toys and Sex Industry Apologist, and they’ll be available to buy tomorrow before we put them all online. Hope some of you reading this can make it!

2014 mini calendar

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We’ve finished assembling our 2014 mini calendars, which we’ve made this year in lieu of a newsletter. The calendar pages were printed on the Sleepless Nights Press, Tim’s Adana 8×5 letterpress, and the covers were made by Emma with the aid of her trusty Gocco. They’re designed to slip into pockets, wallets, purses or to stick on your fridge, and are free with orders. And yes we know you’ve got a smart phone or whatever that already tells you the days of the week, month and what colour socks you’re wearing, but we’re a zine distro, we like physical objects. As the title of one great old zine would have it, Luddite Shall Inherit!