On Friday, the 20th of September, I was able to visit the MoMa PS1 building for the NY Arts Book Fair, alongside my classmates in my Senior Thesis 1 class. Although I was not able to visit all the locations in the MoMa PS1 before it was time for me to leave, I can safely say that my overall experience at the fair was nothing short of amazing and inspiring. I was able to meet so many different artists working with zines, discuss my interests and goals with them, and receive their business cards/contact info.
Below is a list of my personal “highlights” from the fair, complemented by the pictures of what I found interesting above (DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the art or design pieces I took pictures of in the fair– they are all owned by their respective creators. The names of the creators of most of the artworks will be tagged to this blog post, and mentioned in the captions):
- One of the first places I visited was the Cybernetics Library outside the MoMa Dome. The people at the booth were promoting books and zines on cyberfeminism and cybernetics, and under the umbrella of feminist science fiction (I glimpsed Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed lying on a nearby table). I went to talk with the individuals promoting the event and found out they were an organization that promotes cybernetics which has toured across the US. From them, I found out that they had an HQ on 424 54th St in Midtown, Manhattan, which I remarked was not far from Bryant Park on 42nd street. The organizers encouraged me to visit their main locale, and I found myself sharing with them my interests in cyberpunk and transhumanist ideas. In fact, I actually managed to browse on a nearby shelf a copy of the Xenofeminist manifesto, whose graphic design elements were stunning (and I’ve been compelled recently to reread The Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway).
- After leaving the Cybernetics Library, I met a woman named Lisa Pearson, who showed me a book or diary written by John Cage showing his hybrid poetry. It’s not fiction nor nonfiction, nor wholly art nor literary, nor poetry or prose, according to her, but something in between. She is the publisher of Siglio Magazine— a press that publishes books that occupy the space between art and literature— and she gave me her business card. We ended up discussing how The New School loves John Cage because of his avant-garde musical theory, and his equally unconventional “mesostic” poetry (of which I wrote a version of for my final portfolio in my Intermediate Poetry class).
- HIGHLIGHT: After meeting Lisa Pearson, I met Sebastian Utzni, a comic book artist, who showed me a comic zine (The Human Torch— Towering Infernos) which compiled scenes from previous comic books depicting the destruction of the twin towers in NY before their actual destruction on 9/11/2001. The last comic to show this was a Superman comic in 2001 (issue #595), the very year the WTC was attacked. I found it haunting and terrifying that the US had been publishing comics showing the Towers getting attacked since the 70s (and Sebastian and I hypothesized that perhaps the slew of pop culture comics showing the Twin Towers’ destruction may have given the terrorists responsible the idea/incentive to attack the most prominent symbol of American economic supremacy in New York, long considered the “capital of the world”). I loved the comic, and Sebastian took a picture of me! Seeing all the examples of pre-9/11 in comics, I thought about how would Japan react to Tokyo going down, or China to the collapse of Shanghai Tower (in the context of my superhero comic)?
- Communique from an Ex-Cop– Following my meeting with Utzni, I came across “Communique from an Ex-Cop”– a zine “manifesto” from a cop who killed his coworkers in the LAPD, which was posted on Facebook and generated tons of controversy upon its inception. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a criminal– or, at best, someone who thought that his actions were justified through a misguided sense of justice. The best villains in fiction are often the ones who manage to convince others, and themselves, that they are heroes out to save the world.
- After browsing the Communique, I met illustrator and artist Panayiotis Terzis, who is also the director of Mega Press. He described the zines of the press as depicting artists’ interpretations of spirituality. Lots of psychedelic art to be see on each page. I managed to get the artist’s business card and check out his interesting website.
- Ben Marcus– artist and author of Crisis Zone. Takes place in a Blade Runner-esque sci-fi future dystopia full of noir and terraforming corporations (!). Marcus gave me advice about getting started. Instagram will apparently allow you to expose your art to people you don’t know and is more valuable than a personal website, at least according to him. He also gave me his business card. The art on the comic was beautiful and done with risograph. Marcus was the last artist I met before leaving to go back home.
- In the bookstore near the entrance to the MoMa PS1, I spotted a copy of Philip K. Dick’s The Divine Invasion at the bookstore, the 2nd book in his VALIS trilogy (which I really should read at some point— it’s a classic). The title The Divine Invasion, considering how the book is about aliens, reminded me of my ideas for future issues of my Senior Thesis 1 comic, where an alien invasion is supposed to take place under the pretense of “restoring balance” to the world so that humanity does not destroy it.
Thanks to my amazing experiences at the Book Fair, I’ve come up with some ideas for possibilities for my Senior Thesis 1 comic I could experiment with either now, or in the future (interestingly, my highlights of the fair align with both my own interests and the topics my comic might cover):
Cyberfeminism/xenofeminism = make Hasaki Gozen half cyborg to enhance her mutant abilities? Shift the time and setting of the comic so it takes place in a far future Japan utterly surrounded by devastation? Is Hasaki Gozen a true feminist heroine who is strong and fearless, but also entirely capable of being tender and intimate and caring under the tough persona she uses to intimidate her foes?
Destruction of Twin Towers = Eastern analogue in Japan or China?
Communique = the psychology of a complex villain?
Crisis Zone = gritty cyberpunk? (The main character kills for a living– Hasaki Gozen becomes an assassin/mercenary for the Japanese government).