Alternative title: jumping to the end before I begin…
I don’t know anything about Leonie Brialey’s graphic novel “raw feels” (a.k.a. qualia) other than I want to own a copy, and it was written as part of her PhD project (+ an exegesis, which, thanks to Kerry, I now can’t think of as anything else but an exit jesus). I don’t understand graphic novels, how (or if?) they’re different to comics, but I do love the fact that someone made one for her Ph.D. and that I found it through a friend of a friend of a friend, because that is how I find a lot of my very best most favourite things.
Leonie also has some zines for sale on her site, which interested me because I have been asked by a few people recently to publish some of my random art journal nonsense in a zine for them to purchase. I don’t know anything much about zines, except they have something of a cult following and seem to run the gamut from a few photocopied/stapled pages to professionally printed full colour masterpieces. But it’s an idea I can’t shake, which is not of interest to my research except that I have also been thinking about wanting something more than an photography exhibition as a creative product of the research. I want to recognise the partnership of any future (bless you) respondents in a material way, to bring back something to them in return for sharing their stories of loss and longing.
So, I’m thinking zines, one for each participant, full of their stories and my artwork (photography, yes, but I also think anything else that I might have scribbled or drawn or painted as part of my thinking process.) Different, but related to, the photographic essays, a lot more informal and messy and, um, fun. The participants will get their own copy, but there’ll be more copies for sharing, or even selling, barring consent, of course. Or perhaps a zine of the research process itself? Or both?
I think I just heard both supervisors rolls their eyes so hard they turned a full 360 degrees in their head because my reach is, as always, exceeding my grasp (though Browning says it should, or what’s a heaven for?). But there’s an ethos to zines that I think fits really well with both my personal research philosophy in general, and this research topic in particular. I am starting to feel the beginnings of multiple strands of theoretical and artistic connections forming, in the same way I did when I chose to use collage in the Master’s thesis, and that tells me it’s worth pursuing, even if I’ve just added a heap more work to the whole thing, work that isn’t strictly necessary. It’s not work work, though. It’s joy work. And joy, as Ms Oliver says, was not made to be a crumb*.
*If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
-Mary Oliver, Swans