Review — ZUG #1 & #2

Reviews are import­ant. As an informed opin­ion they offer guid­ance and arouse interest. In the era of the inter­net you often judge an artzine or artist book just by the pic­tures of a few spreads. It is hard to know what a pub­lic­a­tion con­tains and in most cases you buy it without detailed inform­a­tion, or you do not buy it at all. In the big­ger cit­ies, dis­tros have tackled the prob­lem and it is here, where you can browse (manu­ally) through the dif­fer­ent pub­lic­a­tions before you make your buy­ing decision. Unfor­tu­nately, not every city has a dis­tro and for this reas­on, artzines​.de has not only improved its selec­tion of artzines intro­duced online, but did so on the grounds of reviews by Regine Ehleit­er. Under Regine’s guid­ance, artzines​.de will update its selec­tion reg­u­larly, includ­ing new­comers as well as  clas­sics of the artzine scene.

Regine stud­ied Cul­tur­al Stud­ies, Journ­al­ism and His­tory of Art at Uni­ver­sity of Leipzig, Ger­many. She has proven her­self as a know­ledge­able and pas­sion­ate expert on artzines, when giv­ing a lec­ture on the top­ic at the »I’ve Zine The Dark­ness« exhib­i­tion in Halle. Fur­ther­more, Regine cur­ated the »Thanks for Shar­ing« exhib­i­tion at D21 Kun­straum in Leipzig of which she is a found­ing mem­ber. She cur­rently works as a cur­at­ori­al assist­ant at the Staat­liche Kun­sthalle Baden-Baden.

Please warmly wel­come Regine to artzines​.de. I am very happy to work with her… — Mor­itz

I’d like to start this new review sec­tion on artzines​.de by present­ing a thought­fully com­posed, bilin­gual zine that, in its inaug­ur­al issue, attends to the act of col­lect­ing. It is called Zug (Hun­gari­an for “angle” or “nook”) and is edited and designed by Aaron Fabi­an. If his name doesn’t sound famil­i­ar, check their web­site. Innen is an inde­pend­ent pub­lish­ing house from Bud­apest that Aaron Fabi­an has been run­ning for more than five years now. Issue 1 of Zug came out in 2010, the second issue on “Obses­sion” fol­lowed last year.

Zug #1 (col­lect­ing) and Zug #2 (obses­sion) (Foto: Innen)

In a short essay “About the spir­it of col­lect­ing” at the very begin­ning of Zug #1 the Hun­gari­an cur­at­or Józ­sef Mélyi points out that: “Although col­lec­tions begin to take shape accord­ing to the collector’s ideas, they tend to gain com­plete con­trol over the col­lect­or in the end.” By col­lect­ing we not only define who we want to be, but at the same time are defined by our col­lec­tions. Or, in the words of Tyler Dur­den in Fight Club: “The things you own, end up own­ing you.”

If this made you worry that you might already own too many zines, let me quote András Bányai from his essay “Col­lec­ted Thoughts on Col­lect­ing”, pub­lished later on in the issue. There he out­lines the pos­it­ive psy­cho­lo­gic­al func­tion of col­lect­ing, stat­ing that it “can serve to rein­force the ego and the devel­op­ment of iden­tity because it gives us an oppor­tun­ity to exper­i­ence our own import­ance and indi­vidu­al­ity”. If you ask me, this sounds like a pretty good excuse to expand your col­lec­tion.

Zug #1 — Pal Ger­ber: “Corner of a house secured to a nat­ur­al rock with a double chain”, p. 12 – 13 (Foto: Motto)

In between these short essay texts, you’ll find a selec­tion of pho­to­graphs that the Hun­gari­an artist Pál Ger­ber (*1956) col­lec­ted since the late sev­en­ties. For example, there is an image of a motor­bike with an arm­chair and cof­fee table. Next to that you’ll see a rot­ten banana togeth­er with the notice that it was “kept for three days in a bag”.

Pál Ger­ber: “About Col­lect­ing”, p. 14 – 15 (Foto: Motto)

These fancy, out­land­ish objects bring to mind the numer­ous things that the earli­est art col­lect­ors, Renais­sance sov­er­eigns, like Rudolf II, King of Hun­gary, amassed in their cab­in­ets of curi­os­it­ies all over Europe.

An equally inspir­ing, yet very dif­fer­ent col­lec­tion presen­ted in Zug is that of Ben­jamin Sommerhalder’s nine favour­ite book cov­ers. The Swiss Pub­lish­er with a back­ground in graph­ic design has been run­ning Nieves since 2001. His selec­tion ranges from the cov­er of a self-pub­lished zine by Misaki Kawai to that of a children’s book with draw­ings by renowned French-Ger­man illus­trat­or Tomi Unger­er (*1931).

Zug #1 — “Ben­jamin Sommerhalder’s favour­ite book cov­ers”, p. 20 – 21 (Foto: Motto)

In issue 2, Zug con­tin­ues its jour­ney along the driv­ing forces of the human psyche. After “Col­lect­ing”, it is now the psy­cho­lo­gic­al con­nota­tions of “Obses­sion” that András Bányai approaches in his essay for Zug. Unlike in the first issue, the essay texts in Zug #2 are set in a very small typeface, span­ning over almost the whole page.

Although a little hard to read, con­cep­tu­ally this design decision seems to under­line the theme of the issue – “Obses­sion”. In its obscur­ity the text is remin­is­cent of the small scraggy hand­writ­ing of a rest­less char­ac­ter, pro­pelled to write down the efflux of his geni­us before it is too late. Yet, what we actu­ally get to read is more fun than that: In his one-page essay, Tamás Fehér­vári describes “The rules of couch cheer­ing”.

Zug #2 — Tamás Fehér­vári: “The rules of couch cheer­ing”, p. 12 – 13 (Foto: Regine)

Like the per­fect top­ic for a Pecha Kucha Night, “The rules of couch cheer­ing” includes a detailed descrip­tion of things to con­sider, if you plan to have a great night at home with your friends, watch­ing your favour­ite sports team on tele­vi­sion: “15 minutes before kick off, take the cheer­ing pos­i­tion and turn off your cell phone”, Fehér­vári advises, or: “Get the dog out of the room before the game starts. Dogs don’t know the rule of foot­ball, mean­ing they nev­er jump and bark at the right moments.”

The next art­icle is ded­ic­ated to Czech artist Miroslav Tichý (1926 – 2011) who was obsessed with both pho­to­graphy and women. He made thou­sands of blurry por­traits of young girls sun bathing or women fol­low­ing their daily routines. Des­pite his lim­ited means (using self-made cam­er­as fash­ioned out of old eye­glass lenses, duct tape, paper rolls and gum), Tichý suc­ceeded in devel­op­ing a dis­tinct­ive and very intriguing artist­ic style. His some­times stained and battered-look­ing pho­to­graphs are framed by play­ful, dec­or­at­ive draw­ings.

Zug #2 — Miroslav Tichý: “52187” and “51092”, p. 18 – 19 (Foto: Regine)

One of my high­lights in this issue was the work by Alex­is Zavia­loff who con­trib­uted four pho­to­graphs from his Moscow series to second issue of Zug. Zavia­loff is mostly known as the founder of Motto – a dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany spe­cial­ized in (maga)zines. Through his obses­sion with prin­ted mat­ter, the unrest­ing pho­to­graph­er, who is half French and half Rus­si­an, has become some­thing of a sym­bol for the expan­sion of the self-pub­lish­ing sec­tor. After start­ing in Switzer­land, Motto has gone from its first per­man­ent book­shop in Ber­lin-Kreuzberg to offer­ing their pub­lic­a­tions and organ­iz­ing events all around the world.

Zug #2 — Alex­is Zavia­loff: “Moscow”, p. 30 – 31 (Foto: Motto)

Of course, the art­works and essays dis­cussed here form only a small frac­tion of the con­tents of Zug. There is also a bril­liant col­lage of texts by Nicole Bach­mann with pho­to­graphs by Len­ke Szilágyi in issue 1, or a great selec­tion of works by skat­ing journ­al­ist Jocko Wey­land in the second issue. If you like to read more of this skil­fully com­posed zine whose edit­or has a keen sense for detail and excels in the right com­bin­a­tion of texts and imagery, make sure you order your own copy. Zug #1 and #2 are avail­able via Innen’s web­site.


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