Inhabit Zine: In Conversation
What is the value of encouraging engagement between artists and writers for Inhabit Zine?
I have often felt a divide between artists based on their primary medium, and as an artist who uses multiple mediums, I wanted to make a platform that could facilitate conversations / connections between different types of artists. I feel we all have a lot to learn from each other and to remain in closed circles founded on similarities can be quite limiting. It can be hard to break out of this too. If we open the dialogue to different types of artists, we all start to create more diverse, interesting work. I took a class once, run by Kay Rozynski, that invited us writers to engage
with visual art as prompts for new work and it forced me to think outside of what I’m normally focused on. We were able to talk to the artists about their content, processes and intentions before we started working on our piece. That conversation always impacted the work I made from there — sometimes in a significant way, sometimes subtly, but always contributing. When I started Inhabit, I was interested in art as a point of departure for new conversation and a tool for potentially breaking out of writing habits.
In what ways does collaboration influence the making of the zine?
Where time permits, I invite the artists and writers to
converse about everything and anything they can think of. I think the conversation itself is the beginning of a collaboration process, where visual artists offer ideas and information that are then turned into poetry or prose. I think it’s more of a mental collaboration rather than a physical, which is to say that everyone works individually whilst drawing inspiration from each other’s ideas and practices. It’s always exhilarating to collate the zine with everyone’s work as time constraints are often very limited and it’s always a lovely surprise to see how it all works together before going to print.
How does this process affect the final product?
The final works are very interesting to read as a whole, especially where writers have produced work based on the same artwork. You can see where ideas intersect or diverge, and that’s part of the conversation / collaboration. The deadlines are very short and strict so the writers have to work very differently and those who I already know the work of have produced quite differently for Inhabit.
What kind of reception have you received from the galleries you have approached for this project?
It’s been quite a challenge in a lot of ways to engage galleries in this type of project but the ones that have been interested have been absolutely wonderful.
It requires extra time and resources in most cases, and I am so grateful to those who put in their energy to allow Inhabit to grow. The first issue was at Neon Parlour in Thornbury and Irina Asriian, director of Chukcha In Exile was so unbelievably helpful. She put it a lot of time to help Inhabit’s first issue launch and since it was my first time editing and publishing, she was very understanding and offered me a lot of valuable advice. The most recent issue was at Tinning Street where Emma Michaelis, the curator, was also so helpful and accommodating. My main point of contact is usually the artists, so as long as they’re interested and motivated to be involved in conversation about their work, everything turns out wonderfully.
What has been the benefit of placing the writer in the gallery at your launches and exhibitions?
I can’t speak for everyone that engages with the writer in the gallery but for me it helps me to think more deeply about visual art — the work that is made for Inhabit is often someone’s engagement with the exhibition so for me it’s sort of like having a handful of friends whispering their thoughts to me as I look around the gallery. I also love that the readings and the zine exist alongside the artworks for only a moment — then it becomes its own entity. While they exist together, it feels like you’re with that writer inside their memory of when they first experienced that exhibition / artwork — and then it’s over.
The ephemeral element is definitely my favourite part.
What are the future goals of Inhabit Zine?
My friend and rockstar poet / musician / artist Bridget Gilmartin is coming on as co-editor for Inhabit (!). As a first-time editor the experience has been quite solitary for me. I think bringing someone else into the project, especially someone as fresh and inventive as Bridget, will help the zine to evolve and become more inclusive and engaging.
I have run a workshop only for Issue 2, so I’d like to develop that — to have more face to face contact with the visual artists and writers would be so great. Given the time constraints it is often hard to arrange this but I’m working on it! I’d also love to expand the type of work we publish. For Issue 1, Losumo (Lorien Moysey from Bōnewoman) wrote and performed a song. It was so great! I’d love for Inhabit to become boundless.