MSU Diversity Services and Incite Magazine collaborate on new zine
Soapbox is a zine publication for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour folks to share their art with the rest of the McMaster University community. The main goal is to amplify the art and craftsmanship of BIPoC students through an exclusive, safe space for them to showcase their work.
Soapbox will be accepting submissions of art in many forms if it can be displayed digitally, such as visual art, poetry or a dance video.
“This publication aims to create a platform where the voices, experiences and lives of BIPoC contributors are not only seen and heard but valued and prioritized,” reads an information document released by Diversity Services and Incite.
Additionally, they highlighted the importance of this publication in increasing BIPoC representation within traditional media and social media, which tends to be from the lens of white folks.
“Fundamentally, I think the zine comes out of the fact that often art or creation feels like it needs to be monetized and needs to be done by a certain group or certain somebody with credentials or a background. Often students of color, especially Black and Indigenous students, are excluded from these narratives so we wanted to create a space to have them shine and have their creations be showcased as much as possible,” said Sara Tamjidi, director of MSU Diversity Services.
Another motivating factor for creating the zine was its potential to allow McMaster students to feel more connected with one another through the process of writing and sharing their work.
“It will give the opportunity to create a virtual community in the non-traditional setting of remote learning,” Tamjidi explained.
When asked about why the publication was named Soapbox, Tamjidi explained its historical significance of conventionally being a makeshift box or crate that individuals would use as a platform to stand up and share their views. They chose this name to signify a similar platform where BIPoC individuals can be seen and heard.
“We took that to say that students, especially BIPoC students, exist by creating, by being and are really protesting by creating an enabling soapbox for themselves in their communities,” said Tamjidi
The theme of the publication is “existence as resistance.” With this theme, Soapbox hopes to highlight the ongoing systemic oppression that BIPoC folks face by further suggesting that their very existence is the best form of resistance against these barriers.
The deadline to submit pieces is Feb. 15, 2021, which can be completed through a Google form. Artists whose pieces are selected for publication will be offered a $20 cheque per piece as compensation for their hard work. Each artist can submit a maximum of five submissions.
While they have not yet decided how many pieces will be featured in the zine, Tamjidi explained that Diversity Services and Incite hope to feature the submissions in an alternative media format other than an electronic version.
They also hope to adapt Soapbox to different types of video submissions, such as dance, singing, or spoken word. They encourage all BIPoC students to submit, emphasizing that they are not looking for anything specific or following a certain model.
Diversity Services and Incite hope that Soapbox will be able to create a foundation for future BIPoC students at McMaster by amplifying BIPoC voices on campus and increasing their representation in all spaces.
“I think what our [long-term] hope is with the zine is that we can create an alternative format for students to display their creativity and their artistic talents and to showcase students of colour as much as we possibly can,” said Tamjidi.
In light of recent discussions made by the Student Representative Assembly concerning the fate of Incite Magazine, talks of the supposed “death of print” have once again circulated campus.
Incite Magazine is McMaster University’s creative arts and writing publication featuring student work across a wide range of mediums. The magazine, which prints three times a year, is entirely student-led and student-funded, receiving $1.02 per student annually.
Recently, the Finance Committee of the SRA made the recommendation to send Incite Magazine to referendum to determine its budget. If passed, the referendum had the potential to reduce Incite’s budget byhalf, or even remove it altogether.
When a university that arguably undervalues the arts proposes cutting funding from a magazine that serves as one of the few remaining spaces on campus for creatives, the student body should be alarmed. While the motion to send Incite Magazine to referendum failed to pass at the SRA meeting on Jan. 6, even the idea that the magazine could nix their print publications and simply “shift their operations to an online platform” has harmful implications.
It’s no secret that many publications are going digital. Just last year, Teen Vogue, a popular magazine among millennials, discontinued their print editions. As more publications shift towards an all-digital platform, advocates for print media must stand strong.
But if the content is the same online, why bother printing? Print publications are much more than their content — it’s the experience of reading a print magazine that holds value. Content is obviously important but elements of production including graphic designs and layouts add just as much value to the finished product as the content itself.
Studies have even shown that time after time, readers will continuously choose printed magazines over their digital counterparts. Unsurprisingly, after a transition to an entirely digital platform, those print readers aren’t transitioning with the publication. They’re just gone.
Consider where you’re reading this editorial. Chances are, you picked up a copy of The Silhouette offhand, flipped through the contents, and skimmed the articles that piqued your interest. As far as technology has advanced, this experience cannot be replicated online.
So no, print isn’t dead. Nor should it be. As an editor of both The Silhouette and Incite Magazine, I’ve witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication put into creating print publications. It’s my hope that readers recognize the efforts put into each issue and stand in support of print publications.
By: Adrianna Michell
The city of Hamilton is often associated with art, growth and income disparity, and all of these are reflected in the self-publishing scene. Specifically, zines offer local artists, writers and creatives not only a venue for expression, but a community as well.
Zines grew from the basements of outcast punk rockers to the photo clipping scattered floors of underrepresented creatives everywhere.
Self-published works are made and disseminated unprofessionally, and often through friend circles, organizations or through specific shops like record stores and niche bookstores. Zines can cover many themes, but are generally an art form of subversion where artists are able to share ideas not seen in mainstream forms of media.
The artists that live and work with Hamilton use zines to interact with the politics of the city. Unique voices and perspectives outside of what is acceptable on the shelves of bookstores can be freely shared.
As a Hamilton based OCAD university alum, illustrator and printmaker, Phoebe Taylor uses zines as autobiographical works. Her experience in the world as a woman is the thesis of her self-published material. This comes through as she collects her words and illustrations, and sometimes decorates them with dollar store gemstones.
“I think zines are a form of being pissed off, right?"
“I guess its like hyper-femininity,” Taylor says of the 3D component of her zines, “... that’s just another way of [representing myself]. It’s just like a little piece of me that I’m putting into it.”
“[Self-publishing] for me, it’s definitely making an artwork that is 100 per cent self-serving and something I can share with somebody that isn’t necessarily to represent ... a fully formed idea. ... [It’s] like when you’ve got an itch and you just need to get it out of your system.”
While the personal self-expression of zines is important to Taylor, so is the community that she has built through these creative works. Taylor connects to creators on Instagram and is in touch with the Toronto artist community, but her favourite is the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair.
The Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area, a centre that provides services to survivors and community events, organizes the fair each year to showcase marginalized voices. The free event has allowed Taylor to meet zine-makers and local artists as well as readers who resonate with her messages.
“[SACHA’s zine fair is] an environment where everyone is willing to give you a little bit of themselves,” Taylor says. “[It’s] a lot of giving and receiving of love.”
Despite the love that Taylor has experienced at zine fairs, she also realizes the political nature the format.
“I think zines are a form of being pissed off, right? ... I’d be curious in the next few years what people have to say about, you know Hamilton’s LRT. ... I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody’s writing about gentrification of downtown.”
Taylor's website is http://www.phoebetaylor.ca
After moving to Hamilton in 2013, Amy Egerdeen has found community through self-publishing. As a cofounder of SACHA’s feminist zine fair, she knows the importance of connecting with others in the community over arts-based activities.
Egerdeen is an artist, bookmaker and community worker. Egerdeen works in women’s shelters and youth groups to facilitate self-expression through art. In her zines and other art works, Egerdeen includes themes of “feminism, imagined futures [and] storytelling.”
“I want to focus on creating spaces for people to be involved in their own storytelling.”
Egerdeen likes the passion that goes into zine making. Without the incentive of money or a large audience creators are able to express ideas outside of popular conversations. Zines allow people to talk about things that they have strong feelings about, and topics that may not have a place among the bookstands.
“I love that they exist outside of commercial media, which means you don’t see ads. No one is trying to make you buy something. You can be honest and speak your mind. ... Zines are about freedom.”
Collaboration is important in Egerdeen’s creative process. Through the collaborative zines Egerdeen facilitates in women’s shelters and annually at the HFZF, she is able to use her skills to help others share their stories.
“I want to focus on creating spaces for people to be involved in their own storytelling.”
Collaborative zines are able to gather a variety of lived experiences into one art piece, and therefore are a community building practice. By curating zines that source material from local artists, shelters and youth groups, Egerdeen allows underrepresented groups to come together and share their ideas.
“The zine and politically engaged communities in Hamilton, like most places, have a lot of overlap. Lots of zine makers are also on the front lines of fighting against inequality and injustices.”
Egerdeen's website is http://amyegerdeen.com
“Zines typically have narratives that aren’t shown, and usually those narratives come from marginalized voices, and I think that’s important,” says artist, activist and third year multimedia student Sahra Soudi. Soudi has displayed their narrative-based zines at HFZF and has space at HAVN.
They are currently working on a zine that revolve around themes of uncertainty as well as their personal experiences in Hamilton and regarding oppressions. Their zine is about “overcoming assimilation and then turning that into revolutionary thought.”
While zines provide Soudi an outlet for their ideas, they note that their narrative would not be shown in large bookstores or more mainstream, monetized forms of publication. Soudi connects the tradition of trading zines to the political issue of gentrification.
Soudi looks at “art exchange and art trading as opposed to very capitalist exchange with money, like currency and art, and the importance of that, then comparing that to themes of marginalized struggles.”
“Within my art practices ... [I include] community organizing,” Soudi says. “I seek for communities who do the same work, and I also seek other people who do the same work.” Soudi uses their art works, zines included, as activism.
“Zines typically have narratives that aren’t shown, and usually those narratives come from marginalized voices, and I think that’s important.”
“I guess with zines, I don’t want to say it’s combative, but it is. ... and so it almost always seems appropriate for Hamilton to be a part of [that].”
Jessica Felicity is a Hamilton based artist and community organizer. Currently attending Ryerson University for English, Felicity uses zines as a way to reclaim conversations she has felt excluded from because of her identity as a Black femme.
“You can do whatever you want with a zine. It’s pretty much free space. It lets me have more of a voice.”
Zines allow Felicity to carve out space for herself within the Hamilton arts community, but the medium also allows her to confront the systems that exclude marginalized artists.
“[Zines] combat popular media with different, alternative messages, because you can just make a zine by yourself.”
Regardless of how politicized or personal her zines are Felicity always bases her work in real experience.
“The foundation is truth. You need the truth, not filtered, edited versions. I think with zines also it doesn’t have to be curated through an oppressive lense. It’s more free, like everyone’s true and messy selves.”
“You can do whatever you want with a zine. It’s pretty much free space. It lets me have more of a voice.”
Dr. Emily Bennett N.D.
Dr. Emily Bennett is a naturopathic doctor and birth doula that runs a community wellness centre on the west side of Hamilton. Ever since the wellness centre, Island Island, opened its doors, it has had zines displayed in the waiting room in place of traditional magazines. With poetry and illustration replacing fad diets and home décor, Bennett has given a space for zines to be presented to an otherwise unwitting audience.
“I wanted [to] offer a variety of reading material on topics that wouldn’t normally be covered in journals or magazines. Things that are a bit more niche, personal stories, stuff that would make people feel comfortable when they came in and saw their unique experience reflected in the reading material.”
Bennett’s centre offers community acupuncture and services on a sliding scale in order to accommodate people who may otherwise find the help they need inaccessible.
“Zines relate to wellness in that they are a vehicle for personal expression and maybe processing things that are challenging. ... I kind of see zines as one of the many tools for dealing with things that could be challenging in our life or traumatic.”
Zines as self-published and financially accessible material relates to Bennett’s sliding scale practice, as both are able to connect people, regardless of economic situation, to community and wellness.
“It’s not infrequent for zines to be sold on a sliding scale or for barter or pay what you can or that sort of thing, so it does kind of match our overall aesthetic that we’re trying to operate outside of the conventional consumer system with the way we offer our services. And I think zines kind of reflect that as well.”
"I kind of see zines as one of the many tools for dealing with things that could be challenging in our life or traumatic.”
Zines hold a history of Hamilton’s artists in their messy, photocopied pages. Excluded artists and uncreative folks alike can find community through the collaboration that goes into the creation and dissemination of the medium. Zines aren’t a James Street North novelty, and they aren’t going anywhere.
I consider myself somewhat of a magazine junkie. I use the word “somewhat” in an attempt to not oust myself as the magazine-loving nerd that I am. My lack of attention span in combination with my love of creative nonfiction writing led to me to the discovery that I would rather stare at a computer screen for hours, reading article upon article, than read a novel for the same amount of time. The change in topic and introspective style makes me feel like I’m doing many things at once instead of one monotonous task. Of all the magazines and websites that I frequent, I only subscribe to one: GQ. GQ is arguably my favourite magazine. At the end of each month, I await the arrival of my issue.
My love for GQ started years ago in the aisles of grocery stores sneaking peaks at it while my mother shopped. Whenever my mother would find me reading the men’s lifestyle magazine, she would ask me why I was interested in a magazine titled “Gentleman’s Quarterly.” I would reply with one of two things: either, “well it’s not a quarterly magazine anymore so maybe the gentleman doesn’t apply either?” or “hot guys in suits, mom, duh.” The truth was somewhere in between the two. I did love seeing men in men’s clothing but not because I was necessarily attracted to them, but more so because I wanted to emulate them in any way I could while still staying in the very deep closet I built for myself.
GQ is the magazine for those of us who don’t fit into gender categories. I love fashion, but often I have a hard time finding fashion that feels right for me, or at least finding representations of this fashion. When flipping through fashion magazines targeted at females, I can appreciate a few items of clothing, but when flipping through magazines geared towards men, I find myself falling in love with many more items.
GQ doesn’t just exist to show us how to dress impeccably well; it also has some hard-hitting features. Recently, GQ wrote about the issue of male sexual assault in the army and the pressure to be silenced. They’ve also written about Matthew McConaughey revival – commonly known as the McConnaisance. GQ has also looked at the difference between male and female nudity on television.
My two favourite GQ writers are Devin Friedman and Jeanne Marie Laskas. Friedman has written about “middlebrow” culture, about war, the awkwardness of highschool, race and the token black friend, and the culture around things going viral. Laskas has written about the impact that football has on players’ brains, one of my favourite pieces of all time. She has also written about Richard Norris’ face transplant, hitmen, gun culture in America, immigration, and many other stories that need to be told. The magazine’s piece on David Foster Wallace following his suicide was a poignant piece of literary genius.
Sure, GQ can be misogynistic at times, but I wouldn’t say that it’s more misogynstic than Cosmopolitan, a magazine geared towards women, or The Globe and Mail which has on many occasions featured opinion articles that invalidate the struggles that women commonly face in society and tried to debunk the “myth of rape culture.” On the surface, GQ looks like a magazine for bros sporting high fashion suits and naked girls on the pages, but once you pick up a copy and actually read it, you discover that behind the misguided perceptions of the magazine, it actually is a collection of the best writing about life, sports, technology, culture, entertainment, politics, and everything in between.
The lines of gender are blurry. People express or identify in so many different ways that categorizing clothing and style into strictly “men’s” or “women’s” becomes antiquated. The reason that I like GQ so much is a direct result of societal expectations that make me feel like I don’t fit into the box of “woman”. The magazines out there for women don’t feel like they’re created for me. GQ gives me the mix of everything I like from fashion that I would actually wear to stories that I can get lost in. Simply, GQ is my favourite magazine and I will continue to wait by the mailbox at the end of every month.