An introduction to Kingston’s zines

Modern Fuel hosts underground art fair

The Zine fair included several activist publications.

On Mar. 10, the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre hosted the works of local artists, writers and ziners who were united by their alternative artistic sensibilities.

The event presented a book club-sized gathering of amateur artists, preoccupied with eager customers from the very start of the fair. 

Many vendors sold their self-published zines — essentially shortened magazines often focused on a single theme or topic — to the crowd of customers on Saturday. 

Whether it was an activist art collection, homemade floral postcards, lookbooks or design prints, the atmosphere was welcoming and friendly, with all artists ready to talk about their work.

The art styles themselves were equally diverse. Attending artists used everything from digital design to hand painting to even wearable artwork to express themselves. 

Though not the theme of the event, activism was surely present and a central theme of some artists’ work. One vendor who had a more prominent activist message was the AKA Autonomous Social Centre, an anarchist group offering publications like Blue Heron Books and Zines and Pineapples against the Patriarchy. 

Meanwhile, vendors such as Small Potatoes and Laura Watson used nature imagery in their artwork, often intertwined with human figures. 

Small Potatoes is a newly established artistic group, composed of four individual artists that established themselves as a vendor at the event.  

Small Potatoes member Carina Magazzeni makes digital prints from vintage lesbian porn. The images are juxtaposed against the earthly physicality of the images with interstellar settings creating ethereal, vibrant pieces of art. 

Meanwhile, member Gabriel Cheung works to create miniature lookbooks featuring geometric designs. His attention to detail was undeniable on Saturday, as he explained his process of hand-cutting the images and assembling the small pieces into patterns and designs. 

The artistic goal of Small Potatoes is to help local artists who make intentionally “ephemeral” pieces of art sell and market themselves online. 

Another vendor at the event was feminist art-collective Temper Tantrum. According to Caitlynn Fairbarns, the group “curate[s] multi-vendor online marketplace who supports femmes and self-identifying women artists who are creatively outspoken.” 

Temper Tantrum distributes art zines both online and at art shows. Not only do they focus their attention on feminist zines, they also support and feature the work of artists who make stickers, iron-on patches and poetry books. 

Fairbarns said their aim is to “create a community that pushes each other.” 

The name Temper Tantrum speaks to the group’s artistic goal: to direct their rage into their artwork in a productive way. The artwork hopes to overcome the systematic forms of oppression felt by the artists.  

Some pieces sold by Temper Tantrum that work to show these particular inclinations are their stickers, which read “Don’t tell me to smile,” with an image of a 60s pin-up style model. 

The artwork sold by Temper Tantrum is both feminist and LGBTQ friendly. Through support of women’s and LGBTQ rights, the artwork has a recurrent theme of activist anger aimed at the social ills that exist today. 

With groups like Small Potatoes and Temper Tantrum, Saturday’s event fostered a space where all artists’ views and beliefs were valued and supported. It served as an impressive introduction to the alternative art and creativity that Kingston has to offer. 

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