The following text was curated by Mexican magazine Arquine and is therefore available in a Spanish version on its website.
The exhibition Archizines is currently visible at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City and touring in ten cities of Europe and North America. This display of eighty architectural journals (including the funambulist’s friends from Studio Magazine and Beyond!) is a good opportunity for us to question this medium of communication of ideas. Fifty years from now, Archigram and its ten zines publications participated to a revolution of architecture from the modernist patronizing austerity to a bold and imaginative movement for a city liberated from its bourgeoisie. Nowadays, the democratic aspect of these journals lies more in their facilitated production than in their radical contents. This mean of publication has indeed evolved with the relatively recent creation of many self-publishing services and the potential communication about the printed issues via the internet. The price reflects such means of production and contrast with more established architectural magazines with a larger run. Nevertheless, the goal of a more democratic access to knowledge has still to be pursued.
Two very recent examples of (non-architectural) publications aiming to this goal can be considered here to describe an ideal for the journals involved in the exhibition Archizines. The first one is the small pamphlet entitled ‘Indignez Vous’ (Time for Outrage in its English version) written by French former resistant 95 years old Stéphane Hessel in 2010. This 27 pages manual invites its readers to actively critique their political environment and undertake a pacific insurrection. This small book was sold for three euros (less than four US dollars) and many of us bought several of them to give them away to friends and acquaintances. In less than a year it has been translated in thirty four languages, acquired by four millions people, and gave its name to the Spanish social movement the Indignados. Adopting the format of a pocket pamphlet ‘Indignez Vous’ managed to be spread out and therefore politically active while a similar volume, ‘L’insurrection qui vient’ (The Coming Insurrection) did not reach out to the same amount of readers for having registered within more traditional means of publishing.
The second example, closer from the archizines because of its variations through several issues, is offered by the Occupy Theory journal, Tidal. The two first issues which proposed small essays from occupiers intellectuals such as Judith Butler were distributed for free all around New York City in an attempt to invite a plethora of readers to reach a level of criticality towards our economical and political environment. Tidal also proposes an articulated discourse on how the movement Occupy and its world equivalents unfold themselves as various resistive strategies against this same environment. The journal relies on donations –via kickstarter for example- in order to exist and to be distributed for free in the subway and on public squares.
Of course, this article does not try to be judgmental towards the many journals that remains at a price which make them less accessible for a whole part of population, but it seems important to introduces means of production which seems more in adequacy with what zines stand for: subjective and cheap publications that can reach a broad audience. In this regard, this short text can find its conclusion in the evocation of a very recent initiative proposed by Ethel Baraona as a side event of the exhibition archizines, the Make Your Own Architecture Fanzine workshop. This event occurred on April 21st and allowed four teams of two people to challenge the idea of the zine while creating a new one. May this exhibition and those various other examples inspire many people to undertake such reflections and productions.
Link towards the exhibition’s website which constitutes an important collective databank: http://www.archizines.com/