HFZF Interview with Zinesters – Tara Bursey

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Photo Credit - Elaine Banks - https://www.flickr.com/photos/peggylaine/

Photo Credit – Elaine Banks – https://www.flickr.com/photos/peggylaine/

eat to the beat

Tell us a little about yourself and your zine/project/distro, including website(s), etc…

I’ve been making zines for over half my life! The zines I do are pretty eclectic. One of my latest zines was a community cookbook where many of the folks I know in bands, working in record stores and DJs came together and submitted their favourite recipes, re-christening each recipe to include the name of a band or singer. Other examples of zines I’ve done are a zine of interviews with people I know about their experiences with museums, a zine about punk rock and creative practice and a dictionary of my mother’s Macedonian dialect in zine form. Before getting really immersed in the interview format, I did zines that were more art-based. My first zine Poseur Grrrl was the zine I made in high school– it was a cut-and-paste, feminist punk zine that lasted for 13 issues.

Aside from making zines, I am an artist and independent curator who lives in Hamilton. I also coordinate art programs for kids and youth at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre.

How did you start making zines? Who/what influenced you?

Like so many young people in the 1990s, boredom, isolation in the inner suburbs and feelings of low self-esteem influenced my zine-making practice. When I was 12 or 13, zines were a great way for me to be involved with the punk scene in a way that suited me. When I got a little older, I became more engaged with punks in downtown Toronto but kept a close eye on what zines were being made in the US and Canada. I had a distro for a while, and really loved “perzines” and comics by girls and women. I loved that zines could be an outlet for young women to discuss individual experiences and things that are important to them– things that young women so rarely have the opportunity to sound off about in popular media that exists to prey on our insecurities or excludes us entirely.

When I first started doing zines, punk bands and old punk fanzines were a huge influence. The single biggest influence on my early experimentations with zines, punk and art was probably Exene Cervenka of the 70s/80s American punk band X. She was living proof in my mind that punk could be smart, artistic, interdisciplinary, literate and dark, not to mention driven by female vibes.

What does it mean to make feminist zines/do feminist diy publishing?

I think the most important thing as a young woman interested in self-publishing is to just make a zine about the thing that is important to you. Being a girl that self-publishes is automatically a radical, political, feminist act. In a world wrought with systemic injustice, zines allow people to say what they want and have complete control over their presentation and distribution. A zine can be anything the maker wants, which makes it the perfect way to address intersections of feminism and race, class, age, etc. Call me seriously old-school, but I’ve always believed in the old chestnut “the personal is political”– talking about your experiences and sharing them can fuel social change and be a catalyst for others to speak (write) up.

Tell us about a feminist who inspires you to keep working on your zines/projects.

Last year, I helped organize a feminist zine symposium in Toronto where the keynote speakers were Caroline Azar and G.B. Jones of the band Fifth Column. Gearing up for symposium, I found myself re-familiarizing myself with Fifth Column and G.B. Jones’ art and film. Hearing them talk about their work definitely pushed me to do more zine work. It’s always so inspiring to learn about people who lead this life where art, zines, music, and different types creative work just flowed out of them. In retrospect, we can see how the stuff they produced tells the story of women punks and artists in a particular time and place (Toronto). Also, Fifth Column are queer pioneers and unsung heroes of Canadian music…!

What excites you about Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair or the idea of feminist zine fairs in general?

I’m thrilled that HFZF is happening! There’s a big culture of printmaking in Hamilton but there doesn’t seem to be much of a zine scene here, especially among girls and women. This will get the ball rolling and get people connected and, hopefully, collaborating!

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Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair celebrates and creates spaces for marginalized groups to have discussions about feminism through do-it-yourself publishing.

When: Saturday, November 15th from 10am to 5pm
Where: YWCA Hamilton – 75 MacNab Street South, Hamilton ON
Accessibility: The space is physically accessible, including washrooms. Here’s some more information about safe(r) spaces at HFZF.

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