FELICITY COLLIER takes a look at radical publications outside the mainstream
RADICAL voices regularly rise up from the margins of the media.
Zines, comics and pamphlets provide urgent and vital platforms for free expression and unique creativity and, globally, there’s a tsunami of such publications at independent publishing fairs, social spaces, and libraries.
The output from small presses takes in politics, personal identity, social history, culture and sometimes satire.
Topics include almost everything you can think of that the mainstream does not readily lend voice to and the aim of this column is to give a taste of what’s on offer, starting with Consented (consented.co.uk), a well-illustrated magazine (pictured) whose first issue is given over to people to speak up about mental health.
Personal experiences are given to dispel myths and promote understanding and there are articles on austerity policies and mental health, queer nightlife as a form of resistance and survival, the trauma experienced by Syrian refugees and Punjabi identities in relation to depression.
There are quotes from civil rights activist Angela Davis on self-care as survival and an exploration of the lyrics of grime music which comment on mental health issues. Photography, paintings, and drawings give a bold look to this professional-looking magazine that should be in every newsagent.
Describing itself as a “noisy indie” music zine, Cool Brother (coolbrother.co.uk) is a welcome publication for new music fans. Each high-production issue is themed with contributions from a range of illustrators and writers.
In the second issue, titled Under the Sea, mermaids sit alongside an interview with Madrid’s female garage rock/ indie-pop band Hinds, who’ve worked with anti-TTIP artist Laurina Paperina to make their own zine about “friendship and thievery.”
Collages and photography are in the mix with plenty of other interviews and live reviews of new, young bands like Prison Whites, Tangerines, and The Brittanys.
Cus! (tankgreen.com/cuszine) is a glossy quarterly zine focusing on art and politics. Among its opinion pieces are one on the idea of loneliness as a political act, with the author citing the need for books, films, music and art in their lives to keep them grounded.
There’s a considered tone throughout and articles mix powerfully with photos of stark landscapes. There are also some moments of serene poetry on the theme of water.
The essay-style Notes For a 21st Century Popular Avant-Garde (redwedgemagazine.com) is produced in Chicago and St Louis by the Red Wedge group.
It explores the term avant-garde and how it should be used to understand social struggles and there are definitions and examples from history, from Karl Marx to Frida Kahlo, and the radical culture of movements like Rock Against Racism. Modern popular culture like the music of female rapper MIA, whose music is linked to her own social struggles and the case made for art to be ingrained in our everyday life, is also considered.
In Where Are The Women? Women’s Voices of the Holocaust, Rosie Ramsden gives voice to women who survived the Holocaust in a a handwritten, photocopied zine which reproduces the powerful accounts of women such as Lidia Rosenfeld.
The women’s experiences are heartbreaking and it is tough reading, but Ramsden’s aim is to give louder voices to those who she feel were “erased from history.”
The zine includes a full bibliography of her sources as well as her own drawings.
All of these titles are available at Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1.