The radically-minded print media celebration returns in a new form on Saturday, May 22.
Header image: Detail of T.L. Luke’s poster for the 2021 Madison Print and Resist Zinefest, which shows masked critters holding zines and retrieving printed pages from a risograph machine.
On Saturday, May 22, the Madison Print and Resist Zinefest is coming back in a different format as a citywide event spread out among multiple locations. After a year of protests and a global health, economic, and social crisis, the event will resume and re-adjust its celebration of varied, innovative, and often politically radical print media.
The festival took on its current form in 2013, growing out of a long-running series of local zine fests. From 2014 to 2019 (with the exception of 2016), Print and Resist consisted of a day-long event at the Central Library where zinemakers, printmakers, and artists gathered to sell their work and participate in workshops and demonstrations. The 2020 event was initially scheduled for March 18, just in time for the COVID pandemic to force its cancellation.
This year the festival continues under the organization of arts nonprofits Communication and ArtWorking, the Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program, and the design company UnderBelly. (Full disclosure: Communication is Tone Madison‘s non-profit partner organization.)
The organizers came up with the solution of changing the festival’s format and holding it at locations that include the spaces of Communication, ArtWorking, Garver Feed Mill, and Giant Jones Brewing Company. The folks behind Print and Resist see art, printmaking, and zines as a foundation to building community and keeping people politically engaged. That spirit has helped them push through the challenges of developing a safer, more dispersed setup for the event.
“Being able to spread out and feature different venues around town seemed like an opportunity to do a similar thing, just a little bit more safely and with a little bit more of control,” says Bubbler Program Assistant Carlee Latimer, who is the Madison Public Library Bubbler Program Assistant and one of the organizing festival members of the festival.
“That way we can also make sure that we can have a little bit more grip on what’s happening in the space, and how we want people to move through the space,” says Latimer.
Jennifer Bastian, director of Communication and one of the main organizing team members of the festival, says having the zinefest in-person would not have been something she dreamt as feasible or possible a year ago.
“We’re trying to do things at a few locations and not have the vendors present, but have their work there so that we can still promote them and share their work,” Bastian says. “The way that we’re handling it this year is in the spirit of giving people access and promoting people who are either marginalized or don’t have access to get their work out there.”
Everyone involved had to do a lot of brainstorming and constantly seek ways to capture some of the excitement of what is usually a bustling event with dozens of vendors all in one space.
Olivia Wisden, co-founder and CEO of the Milwaukee-based UnderBelly, says it all started out with basic questions that arose in the middle of the pandemic.
“Before COVID the conversations weren’t much around: how do we do this safely? We were definitely trying to be creative, bring new things, and add more value to our vendors,” Wisden says. “There was never this question about: what is the format? What is the formula of Print and Resist?”
But beyond the logistics, organizers also had to reflect on what the “print and resist” concept means in the current context we’re living in.
“Drawing, painting, and printing, these are all things that anyone can do and everyone should be able to do,” Bastian says. “That’s the spirit of Print and Resist: it’s giving everyone the most access to making art, making printed materials, and getting it out into the world.”
And this reflection is part of the philosophy that ArtWorking, one of the organizing members of the festival and a nonprofit that works with artists with disabilities, wants to uphold while helping with the organization of the event. Several of ArtWorking’s artists and instructors created zines and other works that will be on display at Print and Resist.
“We’re deeply centered on people getting to say what they want to say and not being censored or restricted in any way,” says Laura Falkenberg, assistant director at ArtWorking.
“One of the artists that I was working with is putting together a zine of her writing over the year, and she had the best quote,” Falkenberg says. “She’s non-verbal, but she typed it to me. She said: ‘promise you will not quell my voice,’ and that sits in my head: do not dampen what I have to say.”
Falkenberg believes it is crucial that people in this political moment can express themselves while also being receptive to the lived experiences of others.
“It’s even more important having artists have a way to make income, and to have a community. So much of Print and Resist is largely a community getting together and sharing. That’s even more important after this year,” Falkenberg says.
Community is also an important element of zinemaking and printmaking for Ash Armenta, a UW-Madison printmaking MFA student and co-president of the university’s Fresh Hot Press club.
“We’re looking forward to events like Print and Resist where we can be together again, which is a huge part of printmaking: the community aspect of it. Printmakers always make work in communal spaces,” says Armenta.
Armenta, along with the rest of the members of Fresh Hot Press, will be participating in the festival by selling their prints and doing live printing at Giant Jones’ brewery and currently dormant taproom at 931 E. Main St..
“We’re curating the work from our Fresh Hot Press members that have some tone of protest or some underlying feeling of resistance,” Armenta says. “Print [and Resist] has protest as a really deep underlying tone.”
And to Bastian, simply holding the event feels like an act of resistance.
“Doing this fest is resisting being beaten down. It is resisting the desire to slip into being exhausted, maligned, or languishing depression,” Bastian says. “You can’t always avoid those things, but the balm for it is to be with community and push back on what is trying to keep us apart or down.”