Last week I attended a workshop called: Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment. It was part of a Critical Feminist Arts/Research workshop series that involved talks on participatory visual methods, sociological fiction, and zine making, brought to us by Dr Ashleigh Watson, Dr Laura Rodriguez Castro, and Samantha Trayhurn.
What is a zine?
“A zine is an underground publication with political messages without censorship. You can express yourself without the constraints of media”
There were two essential activities that we needed to do in preparation for the workshop:
1. To bring some handwritten or printed notes, reactions, thoughts or scribbles on Sara Ahmed’s recent lecture ‘On Complaint’
2. Inspired by the workshop theme ‘affect, embodiment and knowledge’ and Ahmed’s lecture, take one photograph and bring a print version along to the workshop
Following these talks was a practical session, where we collaboratively experimented with a range of methods to explore the workshop theme. We produced a zine on the day, a ‘curated sociology’ of photography, research writing and fiction interventions. This has been published through Frances St Press.
There were poems, printed quotes from Sara Ahmed’s lecture, magazines, colourful paper with different textures, tapes of different colours, scissors, and glue on every table.
We all got to know a bit more about ourselves through our creations. We shared our experiences and reactions to the lecture and talks. Our zines came out in many different shapes, ways and forms, and it has been communicated out to this world in the paper, transmitting an idea, or a vision, or an imagination, or a memory. We were turning into our creations. As we created them, we become ever more present and the lecture messages were embodied.
It was a great experience that made me reflect that when you are most present you are self-expressive in creative ways. Nothing excited me more after the workshop than to read volume two of AKE Zine! And anyone can download a DIY print* version! I was really impressed and surprised with what I produced as I haven’t done anything similar before. As one of the speakers (Sam Trayhurn) mentioned in her talk: “the zine creation is rooted in a praxis of rebellion that questions and challenges political/social norms, and provides legitimate alternative modes of presentation for literary and academic purposes” this is precisely what I felt when I saw the result of the workshop.
There was a real sense of freedom liberating us from the rigid academic language imposed on us through the production of essays and well-written papers as the only way to show the knowledge and express how you understand a topic and develop it.
This is why I would like to bring these experiences to my students. I am looking forward to using these art/research methods in my tutorials or in a seminar that I deliver in the future.