Last Saturday, I attended the Amsterdam Zine Jam at the Felix Merits building here in Amsterdam. I was welcomed at the door by two lovely people who gave me a program, that featured a zine within a zine:
This seems to be a bit of a theme this year, as my zine has one and so did this one:
“All that we see or seem is but a zine within a zine” – Edgar Allan Poe
Since the building was very high and the staircase-depth thing was very deep, I decided to play it safe and take the elevator. I started off in the reading room, where there were zines hung on wires and swings you could sit on, to read said zines. While it looked great, I would have loved to also have a bunch of zines NOT hanging from the ceiling, especially the more elaborate text and/or comic ones, because it’s just not the most comfortable way to read a zine.
At the zine fest I went to in Paris, they had zines on strings, but also zines in a box that you could sit around with a small group and read. This also made random interaction with fellow zinefesters easier, something that I personally found hard to achieve at this fest. But I also do realise that this is Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where people will just randomly steal shit just because they can. I hereby volunteer as a librarian/zine guard for next year. Yes, I’m serious.
After the reading room, I went downstairs to check out the new zines. This room again had lots of zines on strings, but also a couple of zines attached to a sitting bench type thing. Or at least, I sat on it. No alarm went off and it didn’t break, so I assume it was okay?
In one of the other rooms, you could sit down and have somebody type up your story, which you could then use to make your own zine. It was a huge room, with one person typing and one person talking, and for (I assume) privacy reasons, you were not allowed in there. While understandable and very stylish, from a “how to organise this sh*t as efficient as possible”-perspective, it did feel a bit like an ineffective use of space, especially when looking at how packed the main room was: it had a bar, a fairly large collection of photography zines, a big table where you could work on your zines, a photo copier, a binding table, and all of the vendor stalls.
There was no sitting space except for at the (very busy) zine making table, I would have loved to have been able to sit down with a pile of the photography books and just look at them for an hour. Leafing through zines/books while standing always gives me the feeling that I’m at a book shop checking out what to potentially buy, not at a library enjoying the reading. The same goes for ordering a drink at the bar: I like to be able to sit with my drink, maybe even sit next to new people and exchange some convo, not awkwardly stand around with my cola in a corner all by myself.
Don’t get me wrong: it was really cool to see all the different kinds of zines people had sent in, and it was great to see a lot of people trying their hand at making zines, but it would have been nice to have a place to “rest”, read some zines, have a drink, have a convo with fellow (new) zinesters. Not that I think that a zine jam should be a full on ~networking opportunity~, but especially here in the Netherlands where there are not many zinesters, it would be nice to meet some likeminded people, if only for a short talk over a drink.
With the setup as it was now, it felt more like an exhibition. And, like at an exhibition, it’s kind of hard (and probably not even appreciated) to just walk up to a group of people (I was pretty much the only person who was by herself – Protip to others and to future me: bring somebody) and go “Hey! Do you also make zines?” So yeah, that part of the experience was a little disappointing to me.
Anyway, I did take lots of awesome pictures, which (with added captions of course, so make sure to check those out) can be seen here on Flickr.
Speaking of Flickr, I remember promising linking to the photos of the wooden letters, printing presses ‘n stuff. They can be found here: click!