Putting thoughts down on print

Putting thoughts down on print
Projects is having its first ever Art and Design Publication called Print Lab, that showcases independent publications of zines and books.

Books and magazines perch gracefully on nails hammered into large unpainted plywood planks, which lean casually against black walls. The dimly lit space eschews other decorations, drawing one's attention to the items displayed.

This unusual sight is what greets visitors to Print Lab, an art and design exhibition of 62 self-published books and magazines, covering topics ranging from nostalgia and feminism to history and urban architecture.

The aim is to encourage a conversation between artists and writers, says curator Jason Wee, who is also the founder of alternative art space and residency Grey Projects. "The display emphasises a raw can-do attitude and the idea is to encourage the artists and writers to explore, to talk to one another, to find their books," says the 35-year-old writer and artist.

Print Lab is held at Grey Projects and runs till June 14.

On display is Feminist Rant, a zine which aims to defy stereotypes of feminism, and appropriate and redefine it. The idea was to create a space for women of different ages, backgrounds and professions, says its creative editor Viviana Mejia, 34.

"I thought it would be interesting to have people go through their personal archive and select things that maybe were not intended to be published and show them for the first time," she says of the zine which features works from architects, designers and artists from countries such as Columbia, Singapore and the United States.

Feminist Rant's boldly coloured compilation of images, text, poetry, collages and photography includes text and a photo from French performance artist Andree Weschler on her ongoing work The Hairy Virgin. The series of work is inspired by a 16th-century book which chronicles the true story of a girl whose entire body was covered with hair.

Weschler, who has been based in Singapore since 1995, says: "I was touched by the name Hairy Virgin because I am sensitive to the subject of exclusion."

She has previously made a suit out of horse hair and walked around in public in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo and Berlin.

Despite its focus on women, Mejia insists that the intended audience is anyone regardless of gender or background. "It's not meant to be exclusive to a female audience but for anyone who is interested. Feminist Rant is a provocative title and I think that can pique someone's curiosity to take a peek," she says.

In contrast to Feminist Rant's bright hues, artist Tang Ling Nah's Here There Nowhere is a black-and-white guidebook tracing the route of CityLink underpass to places near the Esplanade using charcoal drawings and sparse text. It is part of a larger project called You're Not A Tourist.

Tang, a 2004 Young Artist Award winner, says the book tries to subvert the tourist gaze and encourage readers to identify places through their relationship with people and architectural elements. "Instead of providing a conventional map, I let readers find their way in the underpass by getting them to identify the number of structures and things, for example, the number of lights... they can be tangible or intangible things."

Three second-year students from Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media also wrote a zine of a mad scientist striving to achieve a perfect society through technological advancements. Calvin Ng, 25, says: "The zine is told in a non-linear way and we were trying to evoke feelings of nostalgia and tradition from a personal angle."

The school project, whose other members are Colin Tan, 25, and Peh Yang Yu, 21, draws heavily from science fiction and is influenced by underground fanzines of the European rock 'n' roll and punk scene, as well as underground Japanese zines such as Erect.

The idea for Print Lab was conceived after Grey Projects took part in the Singapore Book Fair last December. Wee says: "It was a great experience to show things that happen when artists and designers make things for one another. It's part of what we do at Grey Projects - to support people who are working on their own stuff."

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