By Teresa Nowakowski
The history of zines—short for “fanzines” or magazines—stretches back to the 1930s, when authors produced short, usually self-made publications with mimeograph machines. Early zines were associated with science fiction fans, eventually expanding into categories like comic books and rock music.
Their popularity took off in the 1970s, when they were typically produced using copy machines. Since then, zines have connected members of various movements, becoming vital tools for artists and members of communities to express themselves and build connections.
Now, an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is spotlighting the power of these publications. Titled “Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines,” the show begins in the 1970s and continues to the present day.
“Part of the ethos of these fanzines is that they’re very open to reader feedback and participation,” says Branden Joseph, an art historian at Columbia University and one of the exhibition’s curators, to WNYC’s Alison Stewart. “They welcome correspondence. They welcome contributions. … They’re more open and collaborative with a community than your typical magazine, [which] has a gatekeeper function.”